Recently several gas explosion related accidents have occurred in houses in Dhaka under the Titas Transmission and Distribution Company franchise area. Apart from the negligence of Titas' authorities, it is apparent that the ignorance of the household inhabitants was also responsible for these accidents. In order to prevent gas explosions, it is important to be informed about the nature of these explosions and how to avoid them.
Natural gas is odourless and is generally not dangerous in an open atmosphere, as it will only burn there. However, if natural gas is allowed to accumulate in a closed house or room in the ratio of gas to air at 6:1, it forms the explosive mixture, which can explode out of a small spark from an electric switch or even a matchstick.
If gas leakage occurs in an open space, it posits no danger. It will only burn at the leakage point. If windows of a kitchen are open, or if there is proper exhaust in the room, it will ensure that the gas escapes and the formation of an explosive mixture is avoided. Thus, it's important to make sure that the doors and windows of the kitchen are not tightly closed, and so the windows should be left slightly open, thereby ensuring that gas is allowed to diffuse into the air in case of gas leakage.
Another preventive measure could be to not immediately switch on the lights or fans of your house once you come back home after a long day. The main door should be left open for a few minutes before turning on the light or fan. In case of a gas leakage, this would ensure that the explosive mixture is diluted, thereby preventing a gas explosion.
While gas is odourless, gas leakage can be detected at an early stage from its smell, provided the gas companies use odourants. However, unfortunately gas companies nowadays tend not to use odourants in gas, either due to sheer neglect of their duties or other reasons. It would appear that workers of the said companies need to exert a little more effort to lift the drum of odourants to a higher platform, thereby making them unwilling to do this task with sincerity. Moreover, the supervisory staff and engineers also seem to have a negligent attitude as they do not ensure the use of odourants in the gas supply system. This human error leading from negligence results in the loss of lives and properties from gas accidents, as people are not aware of a gas leakage until it's too late.
If gas leakage is detected, it's important to close the valves of the gas burners as well the valve near the gas regulator, which will be outside your apartment but within your building complex. You should then immediately contact the control room of the gas company. If the doors and windows of your house are not open, make sure to open them immediately, so that the gas formed has a way to escape. Most importantly, do not panic!
It's not like danger exists only with LPGs; risks are similar with natural gas as well. In a closed atmosphere, the explosive mixture of natural gas will be formed at almost the same percentage. As with LPGs, it's easier to ensure to prevent the formation of explosive mixtures in the case of natural gas.
However, there is a heightened risk with LPGs. LPG is bottled under high pressure and may explode if proper thickness of the steel of the container is not ensured. While purchasing a container of liquefied gas, please check if it has been manufactured by an authorised company, who are issued certificates ensuring the quality of steel while also assuring users that it will be able to withstand the high pressure of LPG.
The writer is an Energy Specialist.