Transporting Propane and Other Flammable Gasses

Propane TankToday's explosion in West Vancouver left a car barely recognizable, injured passers by and did damage to many nearby buildings. The owner of the car left a leaking cylinder of acetylene gas inside and the windows and doors closed. The tiny spark generated by the electric door locks was enough to trigger what amounted to a bomb.

While most of us don't carry around cylinders of acetylene in our vehicles, many people do carry propane tanks regularly and we use propane as a fuel in our RV's. I asked the attendant about it the last time I had one of my barbeque tanks filled and he said that I was one of the few who secured it upright in the box of my pickup. Most people put them in the trunk or back seat and drove away.

Ask any firefighter, gas fitter or inspector from the BC Safety Authority and they will tell you that this lack of care will eventually result in something like the incident in West Vancouver. The Transportation of Dangerous Goods rules are designed to prevent problems and apply to anyone that transports flammable gasses. They also provide for penalties when someone chooses not to exercise care.

In short, transport all flammable gas cylinders upright, properly secured, in a well ventilated area. Insure that the cylinders are marked to identify their contents, that they have current inspection and are corrosion and leak free. Safety advice should be available from your propane supplier and the Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement.

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Oh, and also ...

... keep in mind that Propane is heavier than air.

So if you have any propane - such as a torch (never mind spare barbecue canister) - in your basement, and there's a leak, it will flow downward, just like water, only invisibly.

Until there's a spark down there.

I keep my propane in the garage - it's downhill from there.

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