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HANDLE PROPANE CAMPING APPLIANCES WITH GREAT CARE

The following safety tips regarding propane lanterns and heaters come from the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA).

The association's suggestions will help campers understand how to use their recreational propane appliances safely.

Lanterns:

- Keep dirt and foreign particles out of the lantern valve, and blow the valve clean before connecting it to the lantern. Check the cylinder, valve connections and mantle before each use.

- Never operate a lantern without a mantle or with a damaged mantle - one with visible holes or cracks. Avoid "mantle overburn," which can shorten the life of the mantle and damage your lantern.

- Leave plenty of clearance between your propane lamp or lantern and any combustible materials. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for space clearance. Select a level surface on which to place the lamp or lantern.

- A lantern is not a space heater. Use it only as a light source. It will operate less efficiently at temperatures below 15 degrees F.

Camp heaters:

- Only use LP gas heaters that have been tested and labeled by a recognized agency, such as Underwriters Laboratories or the American Gas Association (AGA).

- Leave lots of clearance around and above the unit. The recommended distances are 6 to 12 inches on the sides, 1 to 4 feet above and at least 3 feet in front.

- Remember that your heater is only for heating, not for cooking food or drying clothes.

- Use the right type of heater in the right place. A direct-vent heater uses outside air to support combustion in its sealed combustion chamber, and vents exhaust back outside. Use this type of heater in your tent or RV (but check the outside vent periodically to keep it free of debris). A vent-free heater uses inside air to support combustion, and vents directly into the room. Vent-free heaters should only be used in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions.

In general:

- Know what to do if you smell the familiar "rotten egg" odor of propane. If you detect the odor, follow these steps: 1. Do not light matches or use any electrical equipment. 2. Leave the camper or tent immediately. 3. If there is an outside tank, turn off the gas valve. 4. Call your propane supplier or fire department from a phone outside the immediate vicinity of your campsite.

For more information about the use of propane-fueled camping equipment, contact your local propane supplier or call 1-800-4LP-GAS2.

The NPGA is a national trade association for the U.S. propane gas industry. It has 3,600 members in all 50 states.