LPG cylinders can leak and cause severe damage to both your health and property
Following the recent cases of death caused by the use of gas water heaters, the Mauritius Fire and Rescue Service solicit your assistance to disseminate the following safety advice to the general public through your reputed Radio Channel or as an article for the press.
Commonly used in our everyday lives, LPG cylinders are something most of us wouldn’t be able to cook without. But these harmless looking cylinders can actually be dangerous. Known to cause horrific mishaps, LPG cylinders can leak and cause severe damage to both your health and property.
How does a LPG gas leak occur?
Gas leaks can occur from defective rubber tubing (ones that connect the cylinder’s outlet to our gas stove), faulty regulator fitting and poor handling of gas appliances. Apart from that leaving the dish you are cooking unattended can cause the food to spill over, which in turn douses burner of the gas stove and causes gas leak.
What are the risks associated with an LPG leak?
LPG contains gas, which, under pressure is highly flammable. There could be two main kinds of health hazards associated with a gas leak:
Hazard 1: Those occurring due to inhalation of the gas
If inhaled, it can displace air, deprive your lungs of oxygen and cause hypoxia leading to suffocation.
Hazard 2: Those occurring due to explosion of the gas if there is a source of ignition
Explosion from LPG can result in serious burns and can cause multiple injuries and even, death. The explosion may also cause injury from fragments and other objects propelled in air.
Emergency Procedures for LPG Gas Leaks
A leakage may be detected by smell at the point of escape (e.g at the cylinder valve or joint in the pipework).
Leakage Without Fire
– Do not panic
– Shut off the gas at the main cylinder valve
– Do not turn on any electrical appliances and any electric switches on or off
– Ventilate the room or rooms by opening all doors and windows
– Extinguish all sources of ignition, e.g flames, lamps, incense sticks etc…
– Evacuate everyone from the area to a safe place
If closing the main cylinder valve fails to stop the leak, call the Mauritius Fire and Rescue Service by dialing 115, using a telephone away from the danger area, and make sure nobody enters the affected part. If closing the main cylinder valve stops the leak, do not use the appliance again until it has been examined by a competent person
Leakage of LPG which has ignited
– Evacuate the premises
– Call the Mauritius Fire and Rescue Service by dialing 115 and state that an LPG cylinder is involved
– If possible, but without taking any personal risk extinguish the flame by shutting the cylinder valve, but, under no circumstances attempt should be made to shut the valve if the cylinder is engaged in the flame
General Safety Tips
– Do not have curtains on the window near the gas stove
– Always keep the cylinder in upright position in a well-ventilated place
– Clamp rubber hose with clips at the regulator and gas stove
– Check rubber hose regularly for cracks and change hose before expiry date, printed on the hose.
– Check the hose connection from time to time for leakage. Apply soap solution over the suspected leaks and if gas bubbles form and grow in size it indicates a gas leaks.
– Do not test leak with naked flame
– Check regulator, hose and clips periodically and replace them as soon as they are worn out.
– When changing your gas cylinder ensure there is no naked flame nearby and that the gas stove is switched off.
Gas Instantaneous Water Heater – Before Installation
Seek professional advice from a qualified person before purchasing your set. (Ensure bathroom is adequately ventilated, such Window and Air Extraction System)
– Installation must be done by a competent person as per manufacturer’s instructions.
– After installation, the qualified person shall ensure proper testing – leak proof test and adjustment is done.
– Flues shall be installed to release exhaust gas.
– For better ventilation, an air discharge fan (extractor)can be fitted
– Do not connect LPG cylinder to any other appliance other than the gas water heater
– LPG cylinders must be stored outside the building in an upright position
– The technician should explain the consumer on how to properly use of the set
– Safe distance must be observed during installation of the set for maintenance and repair purposes
– A ventilating circumstance shall be maintained when using, i.e to open window and air-discharge fan
– Other combustible materials shall be kept far away from the gas water heater.
– Children should always be under close supervision inside bathroom.
– The apparatus shall be serviced regularly – at least twice per year by a competent person.
– If proper maintenance is not done, it may produce a high concentration of carbon monoxide and which can be a life threat
– Ensure that all the flexible connections are being checked for leak at regular interval using soapy water.
For Already Installed Apparatus
– Have your set verified by a qualified person
– Check for any leak using soapy water
– Check for adequate ventilation – Air discharge fan & window
– Flues shall be installed.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning
– If gas water heater is not installed properly, carbon monoxide may build up in an enclosed space.
– This gas has no color, odor, or taste, so you can’t tell when you are breathing it.
– When carbon monoxide is inhaled, it replaces the oxygen that is normally carried by the hemoglobin in red blood cells. As a result, the brain and other tissues get less oxygen. This can cause serious symptoms or death.
Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms
– Headache is the most common symptom of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
– Other common symptoms include: Dizziness and nausea (feeling sick); Vomiting; Tiredness and confusion
High Level concentration of Carbon Monoxide may lead to:
– Gray blue skin coloration
– Difficult breathing
– Impaired consciousness
– Leading to unconsciousness.
– Help the casualty away from the fumes into fresh air
– Encourage the casualty to breath normally
Remember, in case of fire, call the Mauritius Fire and Rescue Service on 115 or report any fire hazards on 154.
For more information, readers may contact:
Hemmant Gunnasya, Divisional Officer – Fire Safety Division, Mauritius Fire and Rescue Service