I have observed, with a lot of concern, accusations trending on-line regarding the death of Ruth Matete’s husband, John Apewajoye. While all manner of accusations has been made, it’s clear that that John died from cooking gas burns, as supported by postmortem results.

This revelation, from the government pathologist, has raised more concerns among LPG users about the safety of the products they trust most in their kitchens. In this article I will discuss LPG safety in detail, as this is a collective responsibility, and not just the supplier’s responsibility. As a consumer, there are various things you need to observe and do while using the LPG, to make sure you don’t fall victim to gas fire or explosion.

While the above is true, it will however be good to note that the key to LPG safety starts at the cylinders’ manufacture, which is the responsibility of the brand owner. Several safety procedures need to be adhered to after the production, and throughout the supply chain.

Arguably, the single most important safety feature of a gas bottle is the Pressure Relief Valve. It’s actually a valve within a valve. The Pressure Relief Valve is incorporated into the main gas valve on the bottle.

Currently, we see LPG being commonly used in various industries and households. The obvious reason is that it is affordable, eco-friendly and less hazardous than its alternatives. It has certainly proved itself as one of the most reliable and easily manageable fuels. The incidents which are caused by LPG cylinders are due to negligent use, and not because of the volatile nature of LPG itself.


Safety during LPG cylinder transportation

Is it safe to transport a filled cylinder in my car?

This a common concern among LPG users. The outright answer is that it’s not advisable. Cylinders are basically containing LPG at a specific pressure. LPG at that specific pressure remains a liquid with a temperature of -28 degrees Celsius.

LPG cylinders are typically filled to 80%, meaning 80% liquid and 20% vapour. This percentage changes, with the liquid LPG decreasing as you consume the gas. The liquid is at the bottom of the cylinder and the gas is at the top. Under most circumstances it is the gas you want to remove, so the cylinder is kept upright.

To take it in a car you might have to tilt the cylinder to a horizontal position. Tilting the cylinder means the liquid LPG in the cylinder will come in touch with the valve. This may lead to the O-ring deteriorating in the cylinder and a leak of LPG can happen from there. This O-ring is made of rubber and upon contact with Liquid LPG it can freeze.

Additionally, the safety relief valve is at the top of the cylinder so that in the event of a release, you want only gas to come out, as any liquid that accidentally that comes out will expand 270 times, and create a much greater hazard.

This likely explains John Apewajoye’s case. The cylinder might have been transported horizontally, bringing the liquid part of the LPG in touch with the safety valve, and what he was releasing into the air, as he tried to remove the “excess gas”, was in the liquid form, hence expanding 270 times.

It is best to carry it in your car in an upright position with very minimal to zero jolting. But it is still a hazard, because you need to be trained in transport emergency procedures, to handle situations not resulting from your own actions.


Safety at home

Given LPG’s widespread use, it is crucial that we follow certain precautions to prevent any incidents. We come across occasional cases where LPG cylinders explode, causing serious injuries and even death. Safety of individuals is the greatest concern for authorized LPG providers. Most providers regard the safety of customers as their utmost priority and even the slightest mistake can lead to unimaginable loss and damage. While there have been remarkable improvements in safety standards, accidents can occur anytime. That’s why it is important to safeguard ourselves with certain safety tips to prevent any unforeseen incidences.

Always observe the following while using LPG:

  • Keep the window open to ventilate your kitchen.
  • Do not place flammable or plastic items near flame.
  • Never leave your cooking unattended. The sauce or liquid in your cooking vessel could overflow and extinguish the burners, causing gas to leak.
  • Never tamper or try to repair your LPG cylinder.
  • Turn pan handles away from the flame.
  • Always keep the LPG valve/regulator switched off when your gas is not in use, especially at night and when going on a holiday.
  • Always store the filled LPG cylinder in an upright position, on a level floor and away from other combustible and flammable materials.
  • Store no more than one spare cylinder at any given time.
  • Make sure all parts of the installation are in good condition. If you should find anything wrong with any part, contact your supplier immediately and ask for assistance.

In case you smell gas or suspect leakage:

  • Don’t operate electrical switches.
  • Ensure that the stoves are switched off.
  • Don’t light any flames or matchsticks.
  • Open all doors and windows.
  • Call your LPG distributor right away.


In addition, you can ask your delivery person to perform the following safety checks:

  • Regulator and burner: Check the regulator to ensure it is not worn out or expired. Change the regulator every five years and only use regulators with a safety mark.
  • Rubber hose: Check the rubber hose pipe to ensure it is not worn out or expired. Change the rubber hose every two years.
  • Hose clips: Check the hose clips to ensure that they are in good working condition and properly secured.
  • Cylinder: Check the cylinder for cracks using soap solution.
  • Leak test: check for gas leaks by applying the soap solution on cylinder joints. The appearance of soap bubbles will indicate a leak point. NEVER use an open flame to detect leaks.

What are some of your greatest fears regarding cooking gas and what are some of the new lessons you have learnt from this article? Share your comments or questions below and I will respond to all of them.






Author avatar
AboutSimon Thangu

Mr. Thangu is the CEO & Founder of Vite Kenya, an entrepreneur & innovator who is driven, dynamic, hands on, and with a deep affinity for confronting challenges and providing solutions. Simon’s purpose and passion lies in identifying challenges in the existing businesses’ frameworks across the developing world and offer innovative lasting solutions.

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