Yaraganahalli gas leak tragedy: Accidents are caused; do not happen
Voice of The Reader

Yaraganahalli gas leak tragedy: Accidents are caused; do not happen

May 29, 2024

Sir,

Unfortunately, an entire family of four persons perished because of LPG leak in their house at Yaraganahalli (Star of Mysore dated May 22, 2024). ‘LPG’ stands for ‘Liquefied Petroleum Gas.’ It is a mixture of Butane and Propane gases, in varying proportions. It is stored under pressure in a cylinder, in the form of a liquid. Hence, the name.

The density of LPG, relative to air, is about 1.50. It gets released from the cylinder,  through a regulator, as a gas and enters, through the tube, to the burner (cooking oven/iron box). At that end, it gets mixed with air (oxygen).

On ignition, it gives out a flame. The gas does not have any smell. Hence, as a matter of abundant precaution, a very small percentage of a highly noxious, sulphur-based, organic compound is mixed with the gas. However, the pungent smell gets perceptible only when the cylinder gets virtually exhausted.

The accident: There was no fire. But those who were sleeping inside the house — a tiny one — died. At the end of the cooking/ pressing of clothes, the switch would have been put off. For otherwise, the flame would have continued. Had there been a leak from the cylinder, itself, due to its valve being defective, it would have been noticed much earlier.

There cannot be any loose connection between the cylinder and the regulator, causing the leak. For, in that case, the regulator cannot snug-fit over the cylinder and, therefore, cannot function. Accordingly, neither the cylinder nor the regulator could be the culprit. So also, about the tube, as such, for it would have been noticed much earlier.

Therefore, the leak must have been due to the tube’s connection, at its either, or both the end(s) getting loose, due to rough handling or otherwise. Rat-biting of the tube, if it is not metal-sheathed, is also a distinct possibility.

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Hence, there are two possible scenarios. First, the leak got developed when the family was out of town and not noticed on returning, since it straightaway retired to bed. Second, on returning, the gas was used for cooking/ pressing, then put off and the family retired to bed, and, thereafter, the leak developed.

In either case, it would be reasonably correct to determine that the regulator had not been kept closed, after its use. Therefore, the tube is the cause of the accident. The gas being heavier than air, displaced most of the air at the ground level and gradually became a thick blanket.

The victims must have slept at the ground level. There was not enough air for breathing at that level. For, ventilation, particularly at the ground level, was very poor. Therefore, asphyxiation must have caused the deaths. (Save, foul play).

To prevent such accidents, certain basic precautions are needed: Closing the regulator, at least, when the burner is idle for a prolonged interval; frequent checking of the tube-fitting and periodical replacement of the tube, using an approved metal-sheathed tube. It is always advisable to get periodical maintenance by an approved agency.

Remember: Accidents are caused; do not happen.

— K.N. Krishna Prasad, Mysuru, 26.5.2024

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