With the recent onset of spring’s unprecedented rainfall across various regions in Ontario, the province’s fuels-safety regulator, Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), is advising residents and facility/property managers of important fuel-related safety tips as they work to recover from devastating flooding.
With key energy infrastructure temporarily out of commission and persistently cool and wet temperatures, many residents may be tempted to use portable fuel-fired generators or camp heaters to heat their homes or garages, as well as propane BBQs and stoves for cooking indoors.
Why is it critical to address fuel safety during flooding?
During emergency situations such as floods, ice storms, and power outages, the public may encounter or create unintended hazards. For example, a flooded basement can create an electrical shock hazard. Flooded fuel-fired equipment may also not function properly, which can create leaks, carbon monoxide exposure, or electrical issues.
During flooding, fuel tanks can float if not anchored in place. This creates the potential for fire and explosion, but also environmental issues if a fuel oil tank floats and tips, breaking fuel lines and releasing fuel into the environment.
“These dangers apply to both homeowners and property/facility managers, as apartment basements or mechanical rooms can also become flooded,” says John Marshall, director of fuels safety, TSSA.
Ways to stay “fuels safe”
- Never use a fuel-fired generator, heater, camp stove, lantern or BBQ inside your home or in an enclosed space such as a garage – these are designed for outdoor use only. Open doors, windows or fans will never provide enough ventilation to prevent CO gas from rising to toxic levels.
- When using a generator outside, as intended, ensure it is situated away from any open windows, doors, and vents of your house, garage or cottage – CO gas can even accumulate in a carport or covered patio.
- Make sure you fully understand and follow the proper operating procedures before starting your generator follow the manufacturer’s maintenance and repair guidelines.
- Always allow the generator to cool before attempting to refuel it to avoid risks of potential fires from gas splashing on hot components.
- Consider using a battery-powered CO detector in the area where you’re operating your generator.
- If drying out your basement with commercial ventilating fans, you must vent any fuel-burning appliances and equipment, including furnaces and water heaters, to the outside. Ventilating fans can create a “negative” pressure environment, which can cause CO to spill back into the home.
- As always, carbon monoxide alarms are required in all homes with a fuel-burning appliance or an attached garage. At a minimum, install a certified CO alarm adjacent to each sleeping area.
“It’s important to ensure that all fuel-fired equipment is properly inspected and maintained by TSSA-certified technicians and registered contractors,” Marshall adds.
To find one near you, Marshall suggests visiting the TSSA’s website and select “Find a registered fuels contractor.”
Residents unsure of any conditions that may affect their fuel-fired appliances should consult a professional TSSA fuels-certified technician. To determine if a technician is certified, ask to see a certificate number or contact TSSA at 1-877-682-8772 for verification. TSSA also encourages everyone to visit www.safetyinfo.ca for safety tips and information about all the areas TSSA regulates, including fuels.