Gas cylinders are vast gaining prominence in our kitchens as the Federal Government has intensified the campaign on uses of LPG (Liquidified Petroleum Gas) for domestic uses as against the kerozene stoves and the firewoods in most cities of the nation. The adoption for cooking of LPG makes the uses of cylinders inevitable. Cylinders come in various types and sizes; they could be made with Aluminium, Steel or Fibres.

However, the most important caution to take while buying one is the checking and authenticating its expiry date. I once asked a couple of close friends if they ever checked for the expiry dates of their various cylinders at home or while purchasing new ones, the general answers were NO! That's the dangerous  aspect of the sweet gas in our kitchens.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) or Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) is made up of a number of gases under the LPG products label, including propane, butane, isobutane and mixtures of these gases. LPG is mostly stored in steel vessels ranging from small gas bottles to larger gas cylinders and tanks. They could be used as fuel in heating appliances and cooking equipments  after being bottled.

It is important to note that a gas cylinder could be as dangerous as grenade if certain factors are not constantly checked. An expired gas cylinder is a time bomb, hence the need to replace it on its expiration. Checking the expiration before purchasing will go a long way in averting serious fire accidents.

Many people have cylinders as old as six to ten years in their homes. It never occurs to people that gas cylinders expire and when they do, the results could be leakage or outright burst due to elevated temperature. There have been many cases of gas cylinder explosions recorded in recent times resulting to magnitude loss of lives and properties. Hence, a need to raise the alarm.

According to the Director of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), a Cooking gas cylinder must not exceed five years. Most people using gas cylinders hardly remember when it was bought, and once the cylinder exceeds the expiry date, it is mandatory to end its use. The advice by safety experts is that individuals keep record of the time of purchase and be alert to changing it before it fully expires.  

However, most people have no knowledge of how to check for the expiry date of the cylinder. The expiry date of LPG cylinder can be found on one of the metal strips that connect the body of the cylinder to top ring (handle), it is written on the inner side of the strip. The strip could have any of the alphabets from A to D painted on it along with a number.

Here is how to decipher the expiry date. The alphabet represents the month it expires while the number indicates the year. A year is divided into four quarters, A – January to March, B – April to June, C – July to September, D – October to December. For example, a cylinder that has “B 20” painted on the metal strip simply means that the date of expiration is April 2020. The alphabet B represents the month of April and 20 indicates the year 2020.

In conclusion, below are some other precautionary measures on the proper use of cylinders:

Avoid buying used cylinders.

Use gas cylinders in a vertical position, unless it was specifically designed to be used otherwise.

Before connecting a gas cylinder to equipment or pipe-work, it is important to make sure that the regulator and pipe-work are suitable for the type of gas and pressure being used.  

Always double check that the cylinder/gas is the right one for the intended use.

Do not use gas cylinders for any other purpose than for transport and storage of gas.

Do not drop, roll or drag gas cylinders.

Close the cylinder valve and replace dust caps where provided when a gas cylinder is not in use.

When required, wear suitable safety shoes and other personal protective equipment when handling gas cylinders.

Store gas cylinders in a dry and flat surface in the open air. If this is not reasonably practicable, store in an adequately ventilated building or part of a building specifically reserved for this purpose.

Protect gas cylinders from external heat sources that may adversely affect their mechanical integrity.

Gas cylinders should be stored away from sources of ignition and other flammable materials.

Gas cylinders must be clearly marked to show what they contain and the hazards associated with their contents.

Store cylinders where they are not vulnerable to hazards caused by impact, e.g. from vehicles such as fork-lift trucks.

Due to the danger that accompanies the use of expired cylinders, it is important that we ensure that our cylinders are always in a good state.