You may already be storing propane gas. If you have a gas barbecue grill, you likely have a propane tank just waiting to fuel your emergency cooking (or heating). Propane is widely used in “off-grid” areas as an alternative to natural gas and electricity, and it is also a good choice for emergency fuel storage.
There are four main benefits to using propane:
1. Propane can be used for a whole lot of different things. Propane of course fuels some barbecues, but it can also be used in portable stoves and portable heaters. Some engines, torches, residential central heating, fireplaces, and generators can run on propane.
2. Propane is widely available and easy to use.
3. Indefinite storage potential.
4. Propane is convenient and easy to use. Usually you just hook it up to whatever you’re fueling. It is also considered to be very reliable.
(Propane is also the fuel used in hot air balloons! If you want an additional emergency evacuation option, you could consider adding a hot air balloon to your preparations if you’re already storing propane. Might as well, right? I’m only kidding, of course, but this is my favorite fun fact about propane.)
There are also a few drawbacks to storing propane:
1. Propane gas is toxic.
2. Propane is also heavier than air, so if there is a leak, the gas will sink in a room and may spread and reach a pilot light somewhere, which would cause an explosion.
3. Propane is not the lightest-weight fuel; it may not be your best choice if you’re going camping without a car.
Always check the valves on cylinders that you exchange; the places that refill them often don’t close the valve all the way. If it is open, you could have all of your fuel gradually evaporate without you even realizing it. Obviously, this also creates a risk of explosion.
If you decide to store propane, get an oxygen depletion sensor, and use it when you use propane inside (for heating). Store propane outside, away from the house, and not in direct sunlight. Do not smoke anywhere near stored propane, and do not store propane anywhere that may have a risk of sparks.