Cases of fire related incidences caused by gas cookers are common at homes where safety has been compromised. Do not fall a victim, neither pose a threat to the lives and properties of your family and neighbours. Stay updated with these current tips of ensuring safety at home
Do you use a gas cooker or keep a gas cylinder at home? No doubt, you are one of those who have found great benefit in using gas cookers and have experienced how efficient and convenient it is to use. This is most especially true after graduating from the usage of kerosene stoves and fire woods. Thanks to modern technology!
However, some aspect in the use of gas cookers and gas cylinders demands our attention – it’s the issue of safety, i.e. the protection of lives and property. Though many today are accustomed to the use of gas cookers or cylinders, sometimes mishaps do occur that may lead to disastrous and sad consequences. There have been cases of whole family members wiped out because of gas explosions related to mishandling of gas cooking devices. Not to be forgotten is a 2014 incident at Epe, Lagos state, whereby 24 persons were left wounded following a domestic gas explosion. Few days afterwards, another separate incident of domestic gas explosion was reported to have injured two children.
Such incidences as mentioned above calls for the need to be very cautious in the way we use and keep gas at home. What do we need to do in order to keep ourselves, family, neighbour and properties safe? First, let us understand what is inside the gas cylinder.
What is inside the Gas cylinder?
Whether you use a gas oven, cooker or camp gas, what is common about them is that a gas cylinder is used along with these devices. The gas cylinder which is used for cooking is usually filled with highly flammable liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). It is usually a mixture of two flammable and nontoxic hydrocarbon gases – propane and butane. The proportion of propane to butane varies in amount depending on the intended purpose, as in; for small portable canisters, barbecue stove or large household tanks. Because LPG is normally odourless, a small amount of pungent gas, ethanethiol, is added to it help perceive gas leaks.
What you would see inside a gas cylinder is a liquid and not gas. This is because both the propane and butane gases have been compressed so much that it turns to liquid and occupies about 274 times less space than normal. What an enormous amount of energy stored! No wonder the gas cylinder ought to be handled with great care.
What you need to do
1. Install an audible smoke detector around your house.
A fact to be aware of is that having a filled gas cylinder at home invites risk. Most domestic fire outbreaks caused by other factors around the home are not usually detected earlier when there is no detector. Having a detector at home gives early warning signal to potential hazards that would only be magnified with the presence of a gas cylinder.
2. Know the your distributors
Granted, it’s not always possible to know every detail of the gas cylinder you purchase. Ensure to buy both the gas cylinder and gas from an authorised dealer or distributor. Also, check for cylinder validity based on manufacturing. The gas cylinder must be in good condition and not worn out at time of purchase.
When refilling the gas, do so with the same authorised gas distributor you formerly bought from. What people are not normally aware of is that gases may not always be from the same origin when buying from a different dealer.
3. Ensure proper storage of the gas cylinder
Gas cylinders can be installed either outside or inside the home. When stored outside, keep it away from the sun and in a cool area. Take into consideration if the climate where you live is favourable. If you live in area where heavy storms and lightning are frequent, it is advisable that you get the gas cylinder concealed but with proper ventilation to avoid collecting gas during leakage.
Storing it indoor requires that you keep the room well ventilated and away from heating source. Avoid placing it close to potential sources of ignition such as: electrical sockets, flammable substance, or even in areas where you receive transmissions from phone calls, TV, internet browsing and so forth.
Additionally, you should make sure that the cylinder is stood on a solid and levelled surface where it is less likely to fall. A compressed gas cylinder which falls to the ground may have its valve damaged and thereby cause rapid release of high pressured gas to the surrounding. This is potentially harmful to the extent of causing damage to property and lives.
4. Safely transport your cylinder.
Never roll a used gas cylinder on the ground regardless of it being empty or not; neither drop it on the ground with force. Transport it while sitting the cylinder upright and with the valve facing upwards.
5. Perform the 5-point safety check at regular intervals.
Always get a qualified gas delivery man or distributor to help you perform the 5-point safety check. This is equally necessary when moving to a new home. The 5-point safety check usually requires the following:
- Checking the regulator to ensure that it is not faulty or worn out. They must not be used for over 5 years. Check the expiry dates.
- Checking the rubber hose that is neither worn out nor expired.
- Checking the hose clips to ensure that it is firmly secured and in good condition.
- Checking the gas cylinder to ensure that it is free from cracks, dents or rust.
- Checking for gas leaks through the use of liquid soap solution applied on cylinder joints. The presence of bubbles from the soap indicates a gas leakage. Never use a lighter to test for gas leakage.
6. Act wisely when you suspect a leak
Do not ignore gas leakages. Always act wisely by remaining calm; neither switching ‘on’ nor switching ‘off’ any electrical appliances at that time. Ensure to turn off the regulator and open windows and doors to disperse the concentrated gas. Possibly leakages may still occur, in that case; carefully have the gas cylinder put out to an open, ventilated area outside.
7. Cook safely
While cooking with gas, ensure that your kitchen is properly ventilated by having the windows opened. Avoid placing plastics, pan handles or flammable items close to the flame. Never cook out of sight as the flames could build up; food could overflow and extinguish the burner. Ensure to keep the regulator switched off when the gas cooker is not in use. This is most especially necessary at night or while away on holidays.
8. Heighten gas safety awareness with your household, roommate and neighbour.
Gas safety can only be successful on a collective effort. Ensure that your household or roommates are aware of the safety guidelines in the use of gas cookers. Paste a copy of these reminders at visible area at your home and in the kitchen. Make it a matter of discussion at family meetings and general meetings with your co-tenants.
Live and let’s live safely.
Certainly, we would not like to be a victim of our own carelessness, neither would we like others to jeopardise our personal safety in the domestic use of gas. We can protect ourselves, family, neighbours and properties if we educate ourselves and apply the various tips necessary to handle gas cooking devices appropriately and safely. Let’s make it our choice