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Chemical safety 101: flammable liquids

Photo: yongyut Chanthaboot/iStockphoto

Did you know? Flammable liquids are required to be stored in approved glass, plastic or metal containers.

Here’s why: “Flammable liquids (such as fuels, solvents and cleaning products) can ignite with explosive force, causing extensive property damage and/or injury, disability or death to anyone nearby,” warns the Texas Department of Insurance.

If you’ll be handling flammable liquids at work, the department says to follow these tips:

  • Don’t completely fill a container; instead, fill it to 80% capacity. “If the container is labeled as one gallon, only put a maximum of one gallon of liquid into it, even if the true capacity of the container may be 1.3 gallons. Leaving a vapor space in the can will allow the liquid to expand when the temperature changes. An explosion could result if the container is completely full.”
  • When transporting a flammable liquid, place the container in the bed of a pickup truck or the trunk of a car – never in the passenger compartment.
  • Store flammable liquid cans in a fireproof cabinet or storage locker when not in use.
  • Never smoke within 50 feet of a flammable liquid. “Vapors, which are invisible, can travel away from the container and ignite.”

If a fire does break out, grab the nearest fire extinguisher, aim the nozzle directly at the base of the fire and begin spraying.

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