Gas cylinders contains compressed gas. Certain specific properties of compressed gases make them highly useful in various research activities. Compressed gases can be very dangerous if not handled in an appropriate manner. Accidents involving gas cylinders can cause serious injury or even death.
TYPES OF GASES
Flammable gases: This type of gas burns or explodes if it is mixed with oxygen or other oxidant, in the presence an ignition source. E.g Hydrogen, Methane, Ethylene, Ethane, LPG.
Inert gases: These gases are resistant to chemical action under normal atmospheric temperature and pressures. E.g Argon, Helium, Neon and Nitrogen.
Oxidising gas: These are gases that supports combustion. E.g Oxygen and Nitrous oxide.
Pyrophoric gas: Pyrophoric gases ignites spontaneously when exposed to air. E.g Silane and Phosphine
Corrosive gas: They destroy body tissues when they get in contact with it. It can attack and corrode metals.
Poisonous (Toxic) gas: They are harmful to humans when it exceeds the maximum permissible concentration in air.
USES OF COMPRESS GAS
- Soldering, welding and flame cutting
- Breathing (e.g. diving, emergency rescue)
- Medical and laboratory uses
- Fuel for vehicles (e.g. fork-lift trucks)
- Extinguishing fires
- Heating and cooking
- Water treatment.
Unsafe use of these compress gases housed in gas cylinders always result mainly to explosion and resultant fire outbreak.
The main causes of accidents involving the gas cylinder includes:
- Inadequate training and supervision
- Poor installation
- Poor examination and maintenance
- Faulty equipment and/or design (e.g. badly fitted valves and regulators)
- Poor handling
- Poor storage
- Inadequately ventilated working conditions
- Incorrect filling procedures;
SAFETY PRECAUTIONS FOR THE USE OF COMPRESSED GAS
- Training: Any employee saddled with the responsibility of inspection, refilling and maintenance of the gas cylinder must be properly train in order to discharge his/her duties safely.
- Handling and use: Cylinders must always be used in an upright position, unless stated otherwise. Gas cylinders must not be used for any other purpose than the transport and storage of gas. Gas cylinders must not be drop, roll or dragged. Cylinder valve must always be closed, dust cap replaced when the gas cylinder is not in use. The cylinder should be handles with care and not dropped violently. Cylinders should only be moved with a trolley, not to be rolled on the floor.
- Storage: Cylinders should always be stored in an upright position with valve outlet seals and valve protection caps in place. Stored cylinders should be well secured and appropriately labeled. Cylinders housing compressed gas should be stored in a cool dry place, away from the weather and combustible materials. It should be protected from external heat source which could affect its mechanical integrity.
DOMESTIC PRECAUTIONS FOR THE USE OF COMPRESSED GAS
- For domestic use, gas cylinders should not be placed in close proximity to the cooker. From the above precautions, the cooker will generate heat which could affect the mechanical integrity of the cylinder. In cases of gas leakage, the close proximity of the cylinder to the cooker will enhance explosion immediately. I will recommend that you place your gas cylinders outside your kitchen.
- Never turn off your gas cylinder without turning off the cooker first. If you turn off your gas cylinder without turning off your gas cooker, gas will be released into the atmosphere next time you turn on the cylinder before you get to the cooker.
- If you notice that your kitchen atmosphere has been saturated with gas, open your windows and doors to allow the gas escape. After few minutes, your kitchen will be safe to use your gas cooker.