Gas explosion has injured, claimed many lives and destroyed property worth billions since 2007 when Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) began supply of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), otherwise known as cooking gas, to the domestic market under the NLNG DLPG Scheme.
According to reports, gas has progressively become another source of death and bodily injuries for users and innocent bystanders in Nigeria today.
Burns occur mainly in the home and workplace. Children and women are usually burned in domestic kitchens, from upset receptacles containing hot liquids or flames, or from cook stove explosions. Men are most likely to be burned in the workplace due to fire, scalds, chemical and electrical burns.
There are also cases of illegal gas refilling plants domiciled in highly inflammable areas across the country.
The relevant authorities need to organise sensitisation programmes to all gas retail outlets on how to operate their business with minimal risk to themselves and the general public.
However, also of increasing concerns are gas explosions of the domestic kind. Incessant domestic gas explosions because of leaking cylinders are on the rise across the country.
Gas related accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injuries at home.
The Gas explosion is usually associated with ignition of accidentally released flammable gas which mixes with air once the ignition limit is reached.
The injury from the gas explosion can result from blast or burns. The burns injuries are usually the consequence of the associated flames.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 265,000 deaths occur every year as a consequence of burns. The majority of these cases occur in low/middle – income countries like ours.
Injuries from burns whether fatal or non-fatal occur predominantly in homes and workplace.
Much more need to be done to ensure that those who handle gas always abide by safety procedures.
Causes of gas explosion
Many people use gas for cooking at home. But do we know that it can be a potential cause of many hazards if not well handled?
• Gas leakage is fuel in its final stage of ignition and can cause fire explosion if left unattended
• Wear-out burner
• Faulty propane tank tubes or valves leak gas.
• Gas hose that run from the cylinder to gas stove are old, rusty, or damaged.
• When appliances are installed incorrectly.
• Appliances were not properly maintained.
Burns are preventable. Often prevention is better and easier than cure, hence we need to ensure that we take action possible to prevent gas leaks in our homes. Here are some tips that we can use to ensure that there is no gas leak in our homes. Gas leakage can be detected as follows:
• Gas cannot be seen, but it can be smelt
• If your flame is orange or yellow instead of blue and leaves soot on your cooking appliances
• Listen to identify a hissing sound from your gas connection or the burner
If you detect or suspect that there is a gas leak in your home. Take the following measures to mitigate the threat.
• Turn off the gas supply to ensure there is no more leak.
• Open all doors windows and any ventilation to ensure fresh air circulation in the house.
• Do not use electric devices such as laptops and phones these things cause a spark which can cause the already leaked gas to ignite.
• Do not smoke, or use any open flames such as a candle because it can cause the leaked gas to explode hence causing a fire.
The following are safety tips that you can apply when handling gas cylinders.
• Know your cylinder capacity, don’t overfill
• Keep the gas knob out of reach for children when not using.
• Make sure that the kitchen or cooking area is well ventilated for a good flow of air in case of a gas leak.
• Educate people around you on gas cylinder safety measures and how to use and handle gas cylinders.
• LPG cylinders should be bought from authorized dealers only
• Avoid wearing of loose fitting cotton clothing which can ignite while cooking on an open fire
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Fire safety experts advise you to learn how to use an extinguisher before an emergency arises. Keep extinguishers where you can see and reach them easily, near the room’s exit. That way you can fight the fire with your back to the door and make a quick escape if flames get out of control.
Use the acronym PASS: To help you remember how to use an extinguisher in case of an emergency.
• Pull the extinguisher’s safety pin.
• Aim the chemical at the source of the flames rather than at the flames themselves, standing at least 6 feet from the fire (or as directed on the extinguisher’s label).
• Squeeze the trigger and hold it, keeping the extinguisher upright.
• Sweep the source of the flames until the extinguisher runs dry
Basic guidance on first aid for burns is provided below.
What to do:
• Stop the burning process by removing clothing and irrigating the burns.
• Extinguish flames by allowing the patient to roll on the ground, or by applying a blanket, or by using water or other fire-extinguishing liquids.
• Use cool running water to reduce the temperature of the burn.
• In chemical burns, remove or dilute the chemical agent by irrigating with large volumes of water.
• Wrap the patient in a clean cloth or sheet and transport to the nearest appropriate facility for medical care
What not to do:
• Do not start first aid before ensuring your own safety (switch off electrical current, wear gloves for chemicals etc.)
• Do not apply paste, oil, haldi (turmeric) or raw cotton to the burn.
• Do not apply ice because it deepens the injury.
• Avoid prolonged cooling with water because it will lead to hypothermia.
• Do not open blisters until topical antimicrobials can be applied, such as by a health-care provider.
• Do not apply any material directly to the wound as it might become infected.
• Avoid application of topical medication until the patient has been placed under appropriate medical care.