Abu Dhabi: A gas cylinder explosion in Abu Dhabi recently, that resulted in a fire and claimed two lives, has once again put the spotlight back on the issue of safety of gas cylinders.
While most new buildings in Abu Dhabi provide centralised gas lines for the purposes of cooking, many smaller facilities and older units still require gas cylinders as a fuel source. Residents also carry cylinders with them when cooking outdoors.
In the summer months, when temperatures soar across the UAE, it is of paramount importance to use them in a safe manner, and also to store them correctly.
More than a week before the explosion at the Al Khalidiyah area restaurant that fatally wounded two residents and injured 120 others, the Civil Defence Authority (CDA) had called for the careful placement of gas cylinders.
“It is preferable to place gas cylinders in the following places: outside the kitchen and away from sources of heat, in a well-ventilated and protected box, and away from direct sunlight,” the CDA said.
What is a gas cylinder?
A gas cylinder is a colloquial term for cylindrical storage vessels that contain liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for the purposes of cooking, heating and lighting. In the UAE, these cylinders are only used for cooking, both indoors and outdoors.
How can you obtain a cylinder?
Produced by oil companies, including ADNOC and ENOC, the cylinders are distributed by authorised companies, and are also available at fuelling stations.
For example, a 25-pound cylinder from ADNOC costs Dh225, and it can be refilled for an additional Dh35. A 50-pound cylinder costs Dh300, and refilling costs Dh65.
At Emirates Gas, a subsidiary of ENOC, an 11-kilogram cylinder costs Dh70, a 22-kilogram cylinder costs Dh140 and a 44-kilogram costs Dh280.
How can a gas cylinder explode?
Firstly, a gas leak from the cylinder or regulator gets mixed with air, forming a combustible mixture. To complete the fire triangle, there has to be a spark or a source of ignition. This spark ignites the combustible LPG-air mixture and leads to an explosion.
In many cases, the leak happens when people are not alert, and a simple act like turning on the switch can provide the spark.
This is why it is particularly important to check on gas cylinders, hoses and other accessories in use to ensure that there is no damage and no gas leakage.
How to be safe?
• Keep the cylinder away from flames and sparks.
• Do not transport more than two cylinders at a time in one car.
• Do not leave the cylinder inside the car during the summer.
• Do not keep the cylinder loosely fitted, or laying down horizontally, in order to avoid rolling.
• Do not place the cylinder inside the passenger compartment.
• Be aware of your personal lifting limits - cylinders are heavy!
• Use hand trolleys or ask for help if the cylinder is too heavy for you to move.
• Do not drop the cylinder. Instead, place it gently on the ground.
• Do not roll the cylinder on the floor.
When in storage
• Keep the cylinder in a well-ventilated, well drained and covered area.
• Place cylinders properly in the upright position.
• Follow all safety instructions.
• Keep the cylinder away from sunlight or heat, and away from the stove.
• Regularly inspect your cylinder for structural damage and leaks.
• Put out all nearby open flames and fires.
• Do not switch on/off electrical appliances when replacing the cylinder.
• Close the cylinder valve after every use.
• Keep the stove well-maintained.
• Regularly check the condition of the hose.
• Replace the hose in case of cracks.
• Check the condition of the regulator from time to time, and replace it if it is faulty or damaged.