Safety – Gas

L.P.G. Liquefied Petroleum Gas, is convenient, clean, relatively inexpensive and for most caravanners or campers readily available. However, it is also flammable. Below are some hints which will help keep your system operating safely and efficiently.

L.P.G. consists basically of propane which is a by-product of petroleum processing. Existing in a vapour form at atmospheric pressure it changes to a liquid when stored under pressure. Inside a cylinder the pressure varies from 350 kPa (50 psi) at 0fiC to 1400 kPa (200 psi) at 45 fiC. This means that it is possible for a large quantity of gas to escape rather quickly if handled carelessly.

Because L.P.G. is heavier than air it will always find the lowest place or stay close to the ground or floor. Ventilation therefore is very important, particularly in confined spaces like caravans. The practice of blocking off air vents to keep out draughts is a dangerous one and is not recommended. As most gas facilities and installations are covered by regulations, a little care by the user can prevent any accidents.

The gas system should be inspected regularly and any service work carried out by a licensed gas fitter. A “Certificate of Compliance” has to be issued on the completion of any work carried out on a L.P. gas system.

Cylinders

These must be stored upright and securely fastened. All cylinders normally used on caravan and camper trailers are fitted with a safety relief valve. This is designed to release gas to the atmosphere should a high pressure build-up occur in the cylinder usually as the result of very high temperatures. Always make sure that this relief valve is pointing away from both the caravan and towing vehicle.

For cylinders not stored under cover a coat of paint once a year will prevent rust formation. Every ten years, from date of manufacture, all cylinders must be inspected and retested.

Regulators

Because gas at high pressure is unsuitable for use in appliances like stoves and refrigerators, a regulator is necessary to lower the pressure. Never attempt to use gas from a cylinder which is not fitted with a regulator. To prevent damage by water it is advisable to place a cover over the top. Due to the need to have the regulator vented to the atmosphere it is possible for water to enter the unit and cause corrosion. If this occurs with older type regulators, it is possible to have gas delivered to the appliances at full cylinder pressure. This could cause an explosion if an attempt was made to light the appliance. Never attempt to dismantle or adjust a regulator. If in doubt have the regulator tested or replace it with a new one. Newer caravans use regulators with over- pressure protection.

Pipes and fittings

Check to make sure that all pipes are secured to the chassis or body. The pipe leading away from the cylinder should be fitted with a loop or flexible hose to reduce the chance of the pipe cracking due to vibrations. To make sure that no leaks have developed, regularly check all joints and fittings by brushing on soapy water. Bubbles will indicate a gas leak.

General safety hints

  • Always turn gas off at cylinder when not in use.
  • Make sure cylinder is not overfilled.
  • Do not enter or stay in van if you smell gas.
  • After turning off cylinder, open door and allow gas to disperse
  • Keep flammable materials away from stove or burner.
  • Have a fire extinguisher fitted in an accessible position near the door.

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