Using natural gas and LPG safely
Whether you use piped (also known as reticulated) natural or LP gas or a gas cylinder or tank at your business or home, you should always be aware of potential safety concerns.
Gas (natural and LPG) is colourless and odourless in its natural state. However, a chemical is added to give it a distinctive odour, similar to that of rotten eggs. This makes it easier for you to detect a gas leak and react immediately.
Natural gas and LPG are not poisonous or toxic, but if an area becomes filled with gas, it can cause nausea and dizziness due to the lack of oxygen. In extreme cases it can result in asphyxiation.
What to do if you smell gas
If you smell gas:
- don't panic
- open doors and windows
- don't light a match, candle or cigarette
- don't turn electrical appliances or lights on or off
- check your gas appliances are turned off - if this does not resolve the problem, call your gas distributor.
Call 000 immediately in an emergency situation.
Your gas distributor's emergency number should be in the top right-hand corner of your gas bill under 'emergencies' or 'leaking gas'. Keep this telephone number handy.
Gas appliances should be checked regularly by a qualified person. This ensures that they continue to operate safely and efficiently. Always use a licensed gasfitter to install, repair, service or remove gas appliances.
When buying a gas appliance, look for safety features such as:
- flame failure devices, which cut off the gas if the flame is accidentally extinguished
- automatic re-ignition, which allows the appliance to relight itself if the flame is accidentally extinguished.
Portable butane 'lunch box' cookers
Portable butane cookers should only be used in the manner for which they were intended (e.g. simple stovetop cooking as depicted in the video).
View our video on butane lunch box cookers.
Some models of butane 'lunch box' style cookers have now been suspended or cancelled as part of a nationwide response to recent safety concerns.
Visit the Gas Safety Queensland Facebook page.
Portable outdoor heaters
Portable outdoor heaters can produce large amounts of toxic carbon monoxide gas if they are used incorrectly or are not operating properly. If they are used indoors, this can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.
View our video Safety first: gas appliances and carbon monoxide.
To reduce the risk:
- only operate heaters outdoors and check that plenty of fresh air is available
- never use heaters indoors or in semi-enclosed areas
- make sure you have your heaters serviced regularly by a licensed service technician, ideally before each winter
- follow the manufacturer's directions
- keep heaters well away from people and combustible materials (to the side or above the unit)
- make sure the heaters are placed on a stable, level surface.
Heaters can be stored indoors, as long as the gas cylinder is disconnected and removed from the heater.
Your LPG distributor will maintain and test your connected cylinders. However, you still should be alert to any signs of malfunction, which could include a gas smell or damaged cylinder. If you have any concerns, phone your distributor.
Portable recreation LPG cylinders (barbecue, camping) need particular care. These cylinders usually contain 9kg of LPG and can be refilled or exchanged at most service stations.
All cylinders must have a valid 10-year stamp to be refilled. Gas refilling stations are obliged to check the date of every cylinder to be refilled. If the cylinder is not 'in test', it should not be filled.
Find out more about the safe use of gas cylinders.
Keep cylinders secure during transport, and don't carry them in the passenger compartment. Use and store your cylinder in a well-ventilated area, and store away from excess heat and possible sources of ignition.
Find out more about the safe transport of cylinders.
Spare cylinders must be stored in a designated secure location, away from ignition or heat sources.
If storing the cylinders indoors in hotels, bars, restaurants, cafés, take-away shops, offices and laboratories, the maximum total quantity of gas allowed is 30kg. This could be three 9kg cylinders or two 15kg cylinders (the maximum allowable size).
See Australian Standard AS/NZS 1596:2008: The storage and handling of LP gas for details.
If you are holding an outdoor event, make sure any gas installations comply with standards and portable appliances are used in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use our LPG gas safety checklist for outdoor events to record gas safety at the event.
If you have concerns about your gas system or supply please contact a licensed gasfitter or your gas supplier.
Excavating near gas pipelines
You have safety responsibilities if you are excavating on your property where there are gas pipelines. Underground gas pipes or electricity cables could be almost anywhere you dig, and damaging them may disrupt essential services, cause injuries and result in a fine.
To make sure your work is safe, visit Dial Before You Dig or phone on 1100 before you begin excavating.
Dial Before You Dig is a free service that covers electricity, gas, water and telecommunications, and provides the location of underground pipes and cables within your property. If the proposed excavation site within your property has underground networks, all relevant plans showing their location should be provided within 2 working days.
Gas fuelled engines
If you’re thinking of installing an LPG system on your vehicle, you’ll need to use an authorised installer and acquire proper certification.
Vehicle air conditioning gas safety
The gas used in your vehicle’s air conditioning system is regulated under Queensland law for your safety. Find out how to safely and legally re-gas your vehicle air conditioning.
Gas flue terminals in recreational vehicles (RVs)
The flue terminal for gas appliances in RVs and caravans must be located outdoors. Without appropriate ventilation, the air within an enclosure will be used up, possibly causing incomplete combustion and carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you are thinking of adding an annex to your caravan, campervan or recreational vehicle, you will need to understand the ventilation requirements for fluing.
Gas safety questions or complaints
If you have any questions or complaints about gas safety, please email email@example.com.