SAFETY RESOURCE CENTER
Understanding Flammable Gas Hazards
Flammable gases have an extremely wide range of domestic, industrial, commercial, agricultural, and fuel uses in applications such as space heating, crop drying and curing, heat treating, and vehicle fuels. Flammable gases form a flammable mixture when mixed with air. The major hazard associated with the handling of flammable gas products is fire.
There are many safe handling, equipment, and storage requirements to consider when working with flammable gases. This safety poster, provided by the Compressed Gas Association, provides basic information to aid users in understanding flammable gas hazards and related safety precautions.
The specific gas product being used can pose other hazards in addition to being flammable. The container label and safety data sheet (SDS) provide detailed hazard information and handling precautions. Always read and understand the label and the SDS before using any product and follow the instructions and safety precautions provided by your product supplier.
Flammable Gas Safety Reminders
Follow safe practices for the storage and use of flammable gases.
Leak test cylinders, containers, and systems when making connections or if a leak is suspected.
Provide adequate ventilation and atmospheric monitoring to ensure that safe atmospheres are maintained.
Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Solvent Direct offers safety posters as educational resources to support the safe use of our industry’s products and equipment. It is important to note that these posters are not a substitute for reading and following codes and regulations, industry standards, and supplier instructions. Purchase your flammablegas safety poster today or the full set.
Flammable gases are generally defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Transport Canada as those gases that form a flammable mixture when mixed with air in concentrations of 13% or less (by volume), or the flammable range with air is wider than 12% regardless of the lower limit. These limits are determined at a pressure of 14.7 psia (101.3 kPa, abs) and a temperature of 68 °F (20 °C). There can be other gases that exhibit flammable properties but do not meet DOT’s definition. The user shall always refer to the SDS of the gas for specific information on its hazards.
The major hazard associated with the handling of flammable compressed gases is fire. The three basic conditions that need to be met simultaneously to ignite a flammable gas are:
concentration of the gas (fuel) within the flammable limits;
air or an oxidizing gas; and
source of ignition.
Flammable gases shall be used and stored in well-ventilated areas in accordance with the equipment supplier’s recommendations. Flammable gases shall be stored away from oxidizers, open flames, sparks, and other sources of heat or ignition. NO SMOKING signs shall be posted around the storage area of buildings or at entrance(s) to storage rooms. Portable fire extinguishers (carbon dioxide or dry chemical types) or other fire protection or fire suppression systems or devices shall be available for fire emergencies at storage locations. Storage of flammables is complex. See CGA P-1, Standard for Safe Handling of Compressed Gases in Containers, and NFPA 55, Compressed Gases and Cryogenic Fluids Code, for requirements related to product segregation; maximum storage quantities; fire barriers and separation requirements such as between flammables and oxidizers; electrical equipment; heating; and more.
A flame shall not be used for detection of flammable gas leaks. Either a flammable gas leak detector or compatible leak detection fluid shall be used (see CGA V-12, Leak Detection Fluids Use with Gas Cylinder Packages). CGA does not recommend gas-detection systems for outdoor use. Conditions of outdoor storage such as wind, humidity, and no enclosures make detecting flammable gas unreliable.
Keep flammable gases a safe distance away from the following:
combustible materials such as oily rags;
oxidizers such as oxygen and nitrous oxide;
open flames such as lighters and matches;
sparks, for instance, from a cigarette or e-cigarette; and
other heat or ignition sources such as static electricity.
LEAKS AND SPILLS
If an emergency occurs involving a flammable gas such as a gas leak, fire, or explosion, personnel should immediately evacuate the area and initiate emergency response in accordance with your company’s procedures. Do not attempt to extinguish burning gas if the flow of product cannot be shut off immediately and without risk. Only trained and qualified personnel should attempt rescue or other emergency response activities. In an emergency, keep unauthorized persons away and eliminate possible sources of ignition.
FIRST AID / EMERGENCY RESPONSE
First aid procedures vary depending upon the specific product in use. Refer to the product’s SDS for specific first aid guidance.
Inhalation. Inhalation of low concentrations can be remedied by promptly going to an uncontaminated area and inhaling fresh air. In the event of massive exposure wherein the victim has become unconscious, or symptoms of asphyxiation persist, the person should be removed promptly to an uncontaminated area and given artificial respiration if breathing has stopped. This should be followed by the administration of oxygen after breathing has been restored.
Skin contact. Skin contact with the liquid phase of flammable gases can result in frostbite. First aid treatment for frostbite consists of putting the frostbitten part in warm water (100 °F to 105 °F [37.8 °C to 40.6 °C]). If warm water is not available or is impractical to use, wrap the affected area gently in blankets. Encourage the victim to exercise the affected part while it is being warmed. This will aid circulation to reestablish itself naturally. Medical attention by a physician should be obtained.
Eye contact. In the event of eye contact with the liquid phase, the affected eyes should be flushed with tap water for 15 minutes. If irritation persists, the patient should be referred to a physician.