As BC is going through days of high and even record temperatures, it’s important to remember that excessive heat can cause a large number of hydrocarbons and chemicals to off gas due to an increase of pressure. Remember back in science class when you learned that heat builds up the pressure in a sealed vessel or container. Well, I bet you didn’t think of that as a safety lesson.
One of the things we teach in many of our safety courses is the proper storage or placement of chemicals and hydro carbons. The challenge and fear on hot days such as these are that homeowners don’t always consider the dangers that can be all around their own home.
Dave Rogers, President BCHAZMAT Management Ltd, told me a story where natural gas storage tanks tucked safely inside a warehouse almost caused a massive explosion. The combined heat inside the warehouse along with sunlight beaming in from the windows directly onto the natural gas tanks caused them to have a “pressure release”. This release, although a safety method for tanks such as this, caused the warehouse to instantly fill with natural gas. Luckily the BCHAZMAT Management team was able to safely deal with the situation and no explosion occurred.
My own story relates to a large can of camping fuel (white gas) stored in a family friends trunk. We were all at the beach that day enjoying the sun as it was just beaming it’s wonderfully HOT rays down on us. Of course, we didn’t think of the temperature in the cars (trunks). When lunch time came, our friend opened his truck and the tin of camping gas exploded all over his exposed chest and face. Luckily it flashed over fast and although he had lots of burnt hair (he had one of “those” chests) his face and eyes avoided serious damage.
Gas, liquid or compressed, is not the only concern in a heat filled environment. Paints, aerosols and other chemicals stored around homes or packed into vehicles can also be a problem just waiting to happen. It’s not always an explosive risk you should be aware of. Off gassing due to pressure can also create a toxic environment not suitable for breathing. Take some time and do an inventory around your home, your car, your RV, and if out and about, your campsite. Many containers can take the high heat but please make sure you know which ones can, and which can’t. Follow the directions on the container and store all chemicals accordingly.
This summer we don’t want to see any people hurt or fires started just due to poor handling of chemicals and hydrocarbons. We certainly don’t want any of our readers to need a visit from their local fire department or us.
Here are some stories from the media to re-enforce our message:
Director of Marketing & Communications
BCHAZMAT Management Ltd.