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Old 02-03-2013, 05:14 AM   #1
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For Your Info - Travelling with Propane On

In a few recent posts members provided their opinion about travelling with the propane on and running appliances; there may be some benefit to some MOC members to read the following.

The following article was written by Mac McCoy. Anyone have credentials more impressive than Mac McCoy?

Mac McCoy is a thirty-year fire-fighting veteran who has worked as a paramedic, deputy sheriff, the Fire Service Training Coordinator for the State of Oregon and now travels nationwide teaching RVers the skills needed for fire-safe travel. Mac has a bachelor's degree in Fire Science and a master's degree in Fire Administration.

Quotes from Mac McCoy:

"If safety is your first priority, then the clear choice is to drive with your propane turned off. If you feel the benefits of driving with your propane on outweigh the potential dangers, then you may choose to keep it turned on. Either way, you're making an informed choice.

Clearly there are benefits to traveling with the propane on; however, there are definite risks. Propane lines can break if an accident occurs while you're on the road or if an appliance moves while traveling. With no restriction in the line, the propane in the tank can escape. Since propane can ignite with only a small amount in the air (eight parts per million of propane), any triggering device in the vicinity will light it. A broken propane line is extremely dangerous and can trigger an explosion and fire.

If you elect to travel with the refrigerator operating on propane, you must turn it-and all appliances-off prior to entering a fuel stop. Most propane tanks can only be filled to 80 percent capacity to allow expansion of the gas in the tank, and prevent the pressure relief valve from allowing gas to escape. When the main gas valve on the tank is turned on, it is critical that you fully open it until it locks to enable the excess flow valve to operate.

A past issue of Escapees magazine recounts a situation where a member had driven into a fuel stop and found the station had burned to the ground. An RVer had pulled into the facility and attempted to refuel while the RV's water heater was on. The resulting explosion burned the vehicle completely, destroyed the station, and killed a Good Samaritan who tried to help. Propane is the direct cause of fires less than 1% of the time. In other words, it's very rare. However, driving with the propane on is a gamble. If you're involved in an accident or experience a tire blowout while the propane is on, your injury and the damage to your vehicle can be significantly worse.

Many states even require that the propane be turned off before entering tunnels. If keeping your food fresh is the main reason you've chosen to drive with your propane on in the past, reevaluate this decision based on weather conditions and your refrigerator type and age. With new technology, it's no longer necessary to travel with propane on to keep food in the refrigerator from spoiling. With minimal opening, most refrigerators manufactured after 1995 keep an internal temperature of less than 40 degrees for eight hours, on a 100-degree day.

When traveling with the propane off, remember to also turn the appliances off. Many appliances now have an electric ignition that causes sparking when lighting the pilot light. This could also trigger an explosion at a fuel stop. You must turn the propane off at the tank for total safety. If there is an accident, having your propane turned off avoids a situation where a line breakage in an accident feeds a fire caused by the accident. Some three-way refrigerators give the option of operating on 12 volts while you are going down the road. Using this option, if you have it, is the safest choice".

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Old 02-03-2013, 06:15 AM   #2
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quote:Originally posted by dpam

Quotes from Mac McCoy:

" If you feel the benefits of driving with your propane on outweigh the potential dangers, then you may choose to keep it turned on. Either way, you're making an informed choice.

Clearly there are benefits to traveling with the propane on;
I weighed the benefits and decided propane on!


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Old 02-03-2013, 06:31 AM   #3
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Have been Traveling 17 years Propane Off will Continue.

My wife worked in a Burn Unit at a Pitsburgh Hospital many patients from W Va.

One checked the level of his fuel tank with a match

Nothing Personal Bingo
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:45 AM   #4
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Do our refer's operate on 12 Volts only too???
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:47 AM   #5
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I'm wit chew Bingo.
Ken, the unfortunate fellow may be a Darwin Award recipient and is probably listed along with this person:
Checked the Muzzle-loader with a lighter...
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:48 AM   #6
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Mine dose not run on 12 volt. I'm with Bingo, travel with my propane on to operate the refer. My decision.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:01 AM   #7
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There are a lot of facets of life that people can agree to disagree about. The main advantage to this forum is that members, particularly new members can learn what others are doing, what they aren't doing, reasons for, reasons against, etc., etc. I do not take anything personal, but rather tell forum members what we do, the reasons we do it, and then they can make a hopefully informed decision as to what is right and wrong in their particular situation. For instance, we travel with the pets crated in the rig because that is the choice that we make due to space limitations. We travel in cold temperatures with the furnace on to keep the pets warm. We travel on extended trips with the fridge on, because with a family of four we carry an extensive amount of frozen and refrigerated food that we prefer to not subject to any warming temperatures. We understand what we feel are the risks associated with our chosen behaviors and have made a decision that we are comfortable with. I liken it to air travel, there is a possibility that your plane will crash, yet air travel is deemed safe due to the fact that millions are not subjected to the occasional crash. The same reasoning could apply to other facets of our lives, isolated instances to us are not a determining factor in the choices we make, yet we fully understand that others may not undergo and agree with the reasons and justifications we make in our personal decisions. This does not mean we are right nor does it mean we are wrong, it simply means we hopefully made an informed decision that was the best for our situation. It is good to present the alternatives so that others can likewise make their own justifications, rationalize their own decisions, and feel informed about that decision. As before, we weighed the benefits and feel that the benefits for us outweigh the risks. Others who feel differently are justified in their decisions as well. As always, this is my opinion only and therefore should not be taken as advice. Besides, it is cold and snowy here and I have nothing better to do than to post on the forum, wait for the Super Bowl, and try not to offend anyone! And furthermore, no animals were harmed during the course of this lengthy post!!
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:06 AM   #8
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Mac has made presentations at at least 2 of our MOC rallies, Goshen and Quartzsite.

I, as well as others, blogged about his presentations at the "Q". I have actually blogged about Mac from the Fall Rally.

If you have not seen his presentation, you should. Be educated.

Mac is also in the business of selling fire fighting equipment for your RV. He was one of the vendors in the BIG white tent at the RV show in Quartzsite.

Only stated in the interest of disclosure.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:11 AM   #9
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We travel with the refrigerator on, but do take the time to turn it off during refueling operations. If it matters, I did increase my life expectancy some by quitting smoking 5 years ago.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:25 AM   #10
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Ours is always off. Even after a day on the road the fridge is still cold, we have never had anything spoil as a result.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:27 AM   #11
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Isn't Mac McCoy the one who did the fire presentation at Q? If so he was very good! Thanks David & Pat for sharing his info on traveling with propane.

I do agree with Bingo that this is a great forum because we can read the information, absorb it, process it, and then make an informed decision that is the one we deem best for us.

FYI - Mac's presentation also pointed out that EVERYONE should have a safety ladder to help them exit their bedroom window in their 5ver, and he recommended that we practice our safety exits regularly. Yet I have NEVER seen an RV with a safety ladder and there were 70 rigs at Q. This is not a judgement just a simple observation. After his presentation I asked several MOC members how many times they have practiced exiting (actually climbing out like he recommends)out of their bedroom window and no one had. Again NO judgement just information. Most of them had lubricated or checked them. From what I understand(keep in mind I could be wrong) it is more likely that your RV will have a fire while you are parked somewhere, hooked up for the night, than it will traveling into a gas station.

What I found most interesting is that everyone had a different piece of information that made the most impact on them as a family (i.e. some it was new extinguishers, some halon, etc). His suggestion on the number and type of fire extinguishers hit home with us so we purchased 7 NEW ones, checked our propane/CO/smoke detectors, bought a refrigerator fan, and we also purchased a halon safety system for back of the refrig. Obviously we take fire safety seriously but we still choose to travel with our propane on.

With all of that said, like Bingo, there is NO judgement on my part for those who travel with their propane on or off! It is simply our choice for our family! I respect ALL of you and value your expertise that you choose to share with me. I thank all of you for the respect that you have shown me in making decisions that may be counter to your beliefs! BTW...we too travel with the pets in the rig because of lack of space! Only your eyesight was harmed by reading this exceptionally LONG post! Sorry!
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:48 AM   #12
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A few things to make you go hmmmmm......
Do we shut off the gasoline in our vehicles while driving? There is the risk of gasoline leakage in an accident.
Does every one shut off their engine while fueling? Especially in the winter, I think most don't. Considering the fact that we can pay at the pump, this is even more probable now.
Do propane and CNG vehicles shut off their fuel while driving? They stand the same risk as an RV don't they?
My intent is not to mock Mr.McCoy. His profession is one that is to point out how to be the safest that one can be, to critique every situation and find any safety deficiencies. Mine is to repair vehicles and point out things that should be addressed so the vehicle won't let you down. Whether you chose to repair them or not is on you. As said many times before, at least you can make an informed decision. If I spent my entire life worring about what if or what could happen in the event of certain events, I believe you could find Hannah and Vinnie, along with myself parked at the "nuthouse" instead of the RV park or campground! JMHO
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Old 02-03-2013, 09:49 AM   #13
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The B. C. Canada drivers manual states that all propane devices are to be shut off. This is to done during your pretrip inspection.
I didn't...

I read an article years ago where the bumpers of buses in Europe somewhere were actually their propane tanks.
The article went on to explain how safe it was, wonder if that is still done today?
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:33 PM   #14
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My benefits weighed with the side of leaving it on. I used to load/transport/unload 48,000 lb of liquid oxygen per bulk load. Truck had to run at fast idle to run delivery pump. Not a problem, BUT must pay attention to detail!
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:53 PM   #15
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David you are rite we used to refill lox on the flight line and propane is a puppy compared to it. I think anyone should do what makes them feel safe as for me I will keep running with it on. I never saw a tank cause a problem even the old ones. IIRCC someone on here said the guys on tv had a hard time just trying to blow one up. JMHO
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:30 PM   #16
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Had a little incident a few years ago which ended up with a totaled TV and a 5th wheel. Kinda glad the propane was off. However this is a decision for each traveler to make.
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:43 PM   #17
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quote:Originally posted by 8.1al

Ours is always off. Even after a day on the road the fridge is still cold, we have never had anything spoil as a result.
We do the same and have found the same, even in 100 degree heat. On the other hand we always turn our car off when fueling. Guess we're just overly safety concerned.
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:05 PM   #18
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You got to remember that this McCoy guy makes his living now trying to connect RV's to fire and explosions. So he will as we say emblish on some things that may or may not happen. You have to remember there are thousands of buses and fleet vehicles on the road every day now that run on propane. You also have to remember that your vehicle is already an ignition source. Yes there have been cases of propane clouds ignited by a vehicle driving thru it. There are 10's of thousands of RV's on the road every day that are out there traveling with their frigs, water heaters and furnaces on. I would venture to say at least 3/4 of those do not turn them off coming into a gas pump. In my travels I have yet to see someone stop in front of the station get out and turn off their frig. Now I will not say it could not happen, but I would say it is very rare, and for something like that to happen you would have to have a large gasoline spill to generate a large vapor cloud. Even on a still day you would not get a large enough vapor cloud with the concentration of gas vapor to air to ignite unless you had a major gas spill. So if you feel safer with your frig off then I can respect that, but do not let some guy scare you unless he can produce more then one case of an RV frig caused fire. There is one famouse case in Ind. where a couples B class RV was burned because the Frig or water heater ignited it. But the old guy hosed down the side of the van with gas since the trigger was locked open. The one news report actually said he hosed the vent where the pilot light was. In my opinion, Bic lighters are more dangerous around LP tanks then driving with a frig on. I was actually witness to what can happen when 2 knuckleheads hook up a big 100 lb LP tank to a trailer at night use a lighter to see with. Let me tell you it is the biggest blow torch you will ever see, and was made even more fun when it was discovered there was a stack of Sheridan tank rounds all stacked up nice and neat about 20 foot away. Still don't know why they did not go off. There are a lot of firefighters in the world and even among them there will be disagreements lol lol.
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Old 02-04-2013, 03:43 AM   #19
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If one turns off the valve on the propane tank doesn't the igniter continue to spark for awhile?
This certainly ignite gas fumes if somehow there were present in the area.
Question, those who turn off the fridge, is it the propane valve or the fridge switch that you turn off?
Our 3000 RK has the rear kitchen so our fridge is out in the parking lot some 30 feet from the GASOLINE (not diesel)
fill spout so I have no concern with leaving fridge and propane on. If this could cause a danger than the person waiting
Behind me should shut off their vehicle, cool down the exhaust manifold and disconnect their battery because the gas
vapor could be ignited by his vehicle. This happens to be my speculation on this subject.
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Old 02-04-2013, 04:01 AM   #20
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Plus you would have to put your slides out to turn off the frig,,,,,never thought of that lol lol
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