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Gas cylinder safety advice when preparing for emergencies

Domestic 45kg gas cylinders don’t pose a significant hazard during natural disasters, provided they’re correctly installed and maintained. But if you do use gas bottles, here are some tips to help you stay safe during bushfire season.

Store your cylinders correctly

Gas cylinders should be:

  • outside of buildings, nominally at ground level,
  • not under a building or stairway,
  • on a firm, level and non-combustible base,
  • secured to a solid structure,
  • clear of combustible materials, and
  • positioned so the safety valves point away from adjacent structures and cylinders.

Ask a licensed gasfitter about the safest ways to store and use your gas cylinders correctly. All gas fitting work, including relocating the regulator or piping, must be performed by a licensed professional.

Licensed gas fitters

Cylinders must be inspected and tested by a suitably qualified person every 15 years, as out of date cylinders cannot legally be filled. Look for the test date stamp on your cylinders to check the last time it was inspected.

Your personal safety – along with the safety of your family and property, is a priority. That’s why work involving gas must be undertaken by a licensed gas fitter, including the installation and removal of gas appliances.

It is illegal for an unlicensed person to install or repair cylinders; do not attempt to repair a cylinder yourself. Never remove or tamper with valves or a corroded cylinder by grinding, drilling or welding.

The only exception to the rule is simple connections that involve attaching an outlet directly to a Kwik-Gas cylinder, such as a connection found on a gas barbecue.

Once the work is completed, ask your gas fitter for a certificate to show the work has been carried out by a licensed professional.

To find a licensed gas fitter, head online to the Master Plumbers & Gasfitters Association of Western Australia for services available in your area.

The safety valve

On top of your gas cylinder you’ll find a safety valve protected by a plastic cap. In high temperatures, the safety valve automatically releases gas to protect the cylinder. When enough gas has been released, the safety valve automatically closes.

The safety valve operates independently from the hand valve and will continue to work if the cylinder is turned off. If the temperature rises enough for the safety valve to operate, a very loud hissing noise will be heard. There may also be a fireball, which is normal, so always keep safe distance from cylinders.

Actions during a bushfire

If a bushfire approaches, and provided it is safe to do so, follow these steps:

  • Turn off all cylinders with the hand valve (located on top, turn in a clockwise direction).
  • Leave all cylinders installed, secured in an upright position.
  • Make sure the area around the cylinders is free of combustible materials.
  • Do NOT cover the cylinders with wet material to keep cool as it may dry out and become combustible.
  • If the cylinders are exposed to heat, and if safe to do so, hose them down with water to reduce the pressure.

Cyclones

If a cyclone approaches follow these preparation steps.

Maintenance

Any damage to the cylinder, such a dents and gouges, will affect its integrity. Inspect your cylinders regularly and contact your supplier with any concerns. If a cylinder is exposed to a fire, the steel can be damaged and may need to be removed from service. Again, contact your supplier if you’re concerned.

Installing a support structure

It’s recommended 45kg gas cylinders be appropriately restrained to prevent tipping and to ensure the safety valve operates as intended. When considering how to restrain cylinders, the construction of your house should be taken into account.

Cylinder restraints for gas cylinders are different for single brick or framed walled buildings and double brick buildings.

Single brick and framed walls are likely to fall over during a fire, so securing the cylinders to a separate support structure is recommended. Double brick walls will generally remain standing after a fire, so a restraint system bolted to the wall is usually acceptable.

How do I report a gas emergency?

If your life or property is under threat, call 000 immediately.

For non-life-threatening emergencies, including faults or leaks, call:

  • Natural gas pipeline issues (ATCO Gas) on 13 13 52
  • Kleenheat gas cylinder customers (cylinders tanks and reticulated gas network) can call 1800 093 336 in the event of an gas emergency.
  • Electricity (Western Power) on 13 13 51

 

Source: EnergySafety

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