Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a preferred fuel source for cooking in many countries across the globe. LPG is widely used for cooking since it is affordable, safe and convenient to use in households. LPG is usually supplied in steel cylinders and these are quite sturdy. In India, LPG cylinders are made using special grade steel that conforms to the IS6240 standard. The thickness of the steel is around 2.9 mm, which is good enough to withstand high pressure and a good amount of abuse.
However, you still need to be careful when handling and storing LPG gas cylinders since the risk of an accident is always present. Most LPG related accidents occur due to misuse or when people don’t follow the recommended safety guidelines. Such accidents happen every year, resulting in injuries and fatalities. If you care about your near and dear ones, it’s recommended that you properly follow safety guidelines when using LPG cylinders. Here’s how to handle and store LPG in homes.
Check the weight and seal on delivery:
At the time of taking delivery of the LPG cylinder, you need to weigh it and inspect the seal. If the weight is correct and the seal is intact, it will indicate that the cylinder has not been tampered with. If an LPG cylinder is tampered, it will increase the risk of gas leaks and related accidents. You can also check the valve for any leaks that may be present. This can be done using a soapy solution made out of soap and water. These safety steps will ensure that you have received the LPG cylinder in a perfect condition and that it does not pose a risk of accidents.
Store the LPG cylinder in a ventilated area:
This will minimize the risk of accidents caused due to gas leaks. In a ventilated area, the gas will quickly escape outside the house and the possibility of a fire or blast will be reduced significantly. If the LPG cylinder is kept in a place that is not properly ventilated, it will result in the buildup of gas, in case of a leak. Even a small leak can lead to heavy accumulation of gas over a period of time. This, in turn, will increase the risk of fire or a blast. The LPG cylinder also needs to be stored in a cool, dry place and should be protected from extreme weather conditions. Storing the cylinder in an open balcony may not be appropriate since things like sunshine, rain or cold may damage the rubber seal present in the cylinder’s valve.
Safety precautions when using LPG cylinders
- Make sure you are using only BIS-approved products. It includes your gas stove, gas regulator, and gas pipe.
- The LPG cylinder should be kept in an upright position at all times. Do not keep it in a tilted position for any reason. If the LPG cylinder is kept in a titled position, it will increase the risk of gas leaks.
- The position of the gas stove should always be above the height of the gas cylinder. This will help prevent potential gas leaks.
- Never leave the food unattended to when you are cooking. Things like milk and other food items can spill over and extinguish the flame. This, in turn, will cause the gas to accumulate in the room. If you are not careful, it can lead to accidents.
- There should not be any flammable items near the gas stove. Shelves or storage cabinets above the gas stove also increase the risk of accidental fires.
- Wear cotton clothes and cotton apron when using LPG gas. Clothes made from synthetic material such as nylon, chiffon, etc. can cause sparks and may also catch fire a lot faster than cotton.
- When not in use, the gas regulator should be kept in the ‘Off’ position. You need to do this every night before retiring to bed.
What to do in case of a gas leak?
Gas leaks may sound scary, but they are easily manageable if you follow the safety guidelines. A gas leak can occur from the LPG cylinder, regulator, gas pipe or the gas stove. You will be able to recognize that there is a gas leak since the gas will have a distinctive odor, quite similar to that of rotting cabbage. The odor comes from the odorant Ethanethiol, which is added to LPG as a safety measure. Ethanethiol is most commonly referred to as Ethyl Mercaptan and it is harmless when used in small quantities. To detect LPG gas leak, you can also install LPG gas detectors or alarms for added safety. As soon as you detect a gas leak, you need to follow a set of standard safety guidelines, as described below:
- You need to stay calm and avoid panicking.
- If you are using a gas stove, you need to switch it off immediately.
- Next, you need to turn off the gas regulator. Remove the gas regulator and put on the safety cap. If possible, move the cylinder to a ventilated area.
- Do not use any electrical switches or appliances at this point of time, as they can create sparks, which may ignite the gas.
- Extinguish any other source of ignition that may be present such as candles, incense sticks, etc.
- Do not light any matches, lighters or other things that may cause the gas to ignite.
- Open all doors and windows and let the gas escape quickly.
- Move out of the house along with your family members.
- Call your LPG gas distributor for urgent assistance. Do not enter the house until the technician has arrived.
To effectively minimize risks associated with LPG use, you need to regularly inspect the gas pipe, regulator, and the stove for any damage that may be there. If you notice any damage, you need to replace the damaged stuff. The gas pipe and the regulator need to be replaced at appropriate intervals, as recommended by your gas company. You also need to get your LPG appliances serviced at regular intervals by the distributor’s mechanic. By properly following safety guidelines and being mindful of potential risks, you can continue to use LPG in a safe and convenient manner.