Safety Concerns When Using a Propane Stove in a Cabin
According to reliable statistics from the CDC, carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the main causes of poisoning deaths in the United States. It's responsible for over 25% of fatalities, which occurs when propane stoves are in use, so you have to be aware of it. These deaths generally occur as a result of cabin fires that result when outdoor enthusiasts choose to cook using propane stoves in their cabins. While this may be hard to believe, the amount of carbon monoxide that's emitted when using a propane stove can be quite high. The problem is compounded by the fact that carbon monoxide has some serious negative effects on humans and can induce devastating headaches, sickness, vomiting, and nausea.
As we've noted, carbon monoxide is a very toxic gas, especially to humans. You, however, have to keep in mind that you cannot detect carbon monoxide by smell and it's not visible. In most cases, carbon monoxide will be emitted when the combustion of propane is not complete. The problem is, this carbon monoxide will mix with the air that you're breathing and this can have very deadly effects.
How to Safely Use Propane Stove in a Cabin
The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that all propane stoves will release carbon monoxide. The only difference is that some stoves will release more carbon monoxide than others but this may depend on various factors including:
- The quality of the stove
- Its age, and
- How well it's maintained
As such, here's what you need to do.
Check for Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Certification
It's of great importance that you check if the propane stove you're planning to use has the UL certification. You must check this before you spend your money on the propane stove. To make things clearer, UL is an organization that puts most products through various rigorous tests and procedures to determine their safety. That being said, the UL certification is considered the gold standard when determining a product's safety. So it's important to look if the propane stove you want to buy or use has the UL certification.
That being said; don't be surprised if you come across a propane stove that doesn't have a UL certification. This is an outright indication that the propane stove is not safe for use in an indoor space and you should avoid it at all costs! In other words, you should only use a propane stove that has the UL certification as it is the benchmark for safety.
Know How Much Carbon Monoxide Your Propane Stove is Releasing
You'll realize that some propane stoves do not emit as much carbon monoxide as others but this may depend on quality and design. As such, some stoves may be much safer than others, but how can you determine this? Well, you need to know the amount of carbon monoxide that a particular stove is releasing and this may depend on its quality, age, and how perfectly it's maintained.
But even with that a good-quality propane stove that has the UL certification should release dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide, especially if it's well-cleaned and properly maintained. However, you still need to know the amount of carbon monoxide that it releases so that you're aware of the inherent risks. For this reason, it's crucial to regularly test using a CO meter just to ensure that you're on the safe side. Having a CO detector can be of great help.
Ensure that the Cabin is Properly Ventilated
Having proper ventilation is, without a doubt, one of the most important aspects of using a propane stove in an enclosed space such as a cabin. You have to keep in mind that standard camp stoves are generally meant to be used in an outdoor area; in a place where it can give off carbon monoxide so that things do not turn hazardous for campers.
It's, therefore, very important to ensure that your cabin is properly ventilated if you have to use the propane stove inside the cabin. You need to have windows and doors open and even install vent hoods if possible. The vent hoods are essential in pulling most carbon monoxide out of the room. As far as opening the windows and doors is concerned, it may not be the best thing to do in winter but you have to figure out the best solution even if it means not using the propane stove in the cabin.
Prioritize Your Safety
As we noted earlier, propane gas emits carbon monoxide when it burns. And given that carbon monoxide is deadly to humans, it can cause serious sickness or even death if inhaled for too long. So it's important to prioritize your safety above anything else even if it means not cooking inside the cabin using a propane stove.
But if you're using a propane stove and you start feeling weird, dizzy, or some sort of a headache, you should back off and step out immediately. Go to an outdoor area where there's a clean flow of air to help you take carbon monoxide out of your system before going back in.
Keep the Stove Clean and Well-Maintained
When cooking, it most likely that grease will drip into the burners. This may in turn burn and produce smoke. This can be quite dangerous and that's why it's always advisable to use grills in an outdoor area. And because you should always keep the smoke to the minimum (the mixture of smoke and carbon monoxide is even worse), you should keep the stove clean and well-maintained.
Make sure that you regularly check the stove even when it's not in use but most importantly, make sure that it's super clean. You have to remember that grease can spark a major fire, so it's important to wipe any messes that occur when you're cooking.
Minimize Your Cooking Time
It's not advisable to cook using a propane stove for an extended period of time. Remember, propane stoves are not designed to be used in an indoor area so using them for hours on end can be deadly. For example, do not even contemplate letting your propane stove on for the night. Instead, you should only use the propane stove when cooking meals that do not take a long time to cook. If you have to use it in a cabin or any other indoor area for that matter, you can consider meals that only take minutes to cook.
Consider Cooking Outside
If you have no other option but to use a propane stove, you should use it in an outdoor area. This is an ideal alternative and will keep you from getting carbon monoxide poisoning. By cooking outside, the propane tank is taken away from any potential hazards and everyone is safe. All you have to do is find a shady spot. Simply put, do not put the stove on top of the propane tank or under direct sun. This is to mitigate any chance of explosion as a result of too much heat.
Again, you won't have to worry about ventilation if you're cooking outside. You'll also have enough space to move around or to use more than one propane stove without worrying about enough ventilation.
Store the Propane Stove Safely
It's of great importance that you carefully handle and safely store the propane stove after each use. Propane is highly combustible and a small mistake can become deadly. As such, make sure that you store the propane tank and stove in a well-ventilated outdoor area. The tank should be kept cold and out of the heat. You should also keep it away from any form of an open flame.
To this end, you should avoid using a propane stove in a cabin or indoor area. It's meant to be used in an outdoor area as it is highly combustible and can produce high levels of carbon monoxide, which is deadly to humans. If you have to use a propane stove in a cabin, make sure that you follow the above-described safety tips. Remember, your safety is paramount!