Operating RVs with Propane On

Propane CylinderIs there a law in BC about leaving the propane appliances in my RV running while I am driving? I already know that I have to turn the propane off when I get on BC Ferries but I want to be sure that I can use it otherwise.

This reader has asked an important safety question to kick off another season of RV use. The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations provide an exemption from the general requirement that propane tank valves be closed when the cylinder is being transported:

Operation of a Means of Transport or a Means of Containment Exemption

1.27 (1) These Regulations do not apply to dangerous goods on a means of transport that are required for

(d) ventilation, refrigeration or heating units that are necessary to maintain environmental conditions within a means of containment in transport on the means of transport and are intended to remain with the units or on the means of transport until used.

This exemption applies everywhere in Canada as the federal government is responsible for making the rules for the transportation of dangerous goods and the provincial government is responsible for enforcing them.

When I bought my first travel trailer I read all the booklets that came with the stove, fridge, hot water tank and furnace because I was curious about this too. The manual for the fridge forbid operation unless the trailer was parked and as level as possible. The others failed to discuss the point at all and I decided that if it didn't explicitly tell me to go ahead then it was probably up to me to choose to make my own mistakes.

A consultation with a Gas Safety Officer at the BC Safety Authority confirmed what I have always believed, this is not a good idea. In fact, it could be very dangerous in some circumstances.

The first one I could see myself being caught in was forgetting to turn off all flames and pulling up to the pumps for a tank of gas. Murphy's Law would likely mean that I would find out about this the hard way. I really didn't want to end my holiday early by being burned to a crisp.

I found that if I stayed out of the fridge and turned on the propane whenever I stopped for a break it stayed cold enough during a day's travel that I didn't have to worry. If you are lucky enough to have one that runs on 12 volts while driving, so much the better!

What's the bottom line? The convenience may not be worth the risk. Consider keeping your propane turned off at the tank when you are driving, fuelling or on the ferry, especially if your appliance manufacturer specifies this.

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