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IGP Ochola tasks directorate of fire to sensitize masses on gas cylinder usage

IGP Ochola

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Inspector-General of Police, Martin Ochola, has tasked the directorate of fire and rescue services to conduct countrywide sensitization on proper usage and handling of gas cookers and gas cylinders.

IGP Ochola in his directive wants Director Joseph Mugisa, and his team to liaise with the ministry of energy to ensure information regarding safety is widely spread.

“Fire and Rescue Services to liaise with the Ministry of Energy to widely disseminate ensuring all gas dealers and operators, have licenses, good ventilation and the capability to operate in safe manners,” Ochola’s directive reads in part.

Of late, there have been incidents of gas cylinders and gas cookers exploding, leaving scores nursing injuries and others dead. Some of the latest incidents have occurred in the towns of Mbarara and Mukono, claiming the lives of at least four people.

Last week’s gas cylinder explosion in Mbarara city killed Hussein Kasozi, 19, and Baker Kisinde, 30, who were welders at the scrap yard owned by John Tumwebaze. Police indicated that five people survived the Mbarara gas explosion with serious injuries and these include Nsabimana Emmanuel, Kamusiime Gashom, Kamujuni Eunice, Ssentongo Mugisha, and Tumwebaze John, the proprietor of the scrap yard.

“The facts indicate that the gas cylinder explosion was triggered, after the workers at the scrapyard tried to cut and open the gas cylinder for scrap. It exploded killing the two instantly,” Enanga said.

At the beginning of last month, two people were killed by a gas cylinder at Sunjor supermarket in Seeta town, Mukono municipality. One of the victims was identified as Yusuf Lukwago.

“All scrap dealers, users of gas, and welders should know that gas cylinders have compressed gases that can be toxic, flammable, corrosive, and inert, which are dangerous. The biggest threats about gas cylinders or usage of gas are leakage from the cylinder,” Enanga said.

One of the guidelines emphasized by Ochola include, inspection of gas cylinders and ensuring all those that do not meet the specific requirements are pulled out of circulation. Mugisa’s report on fire emergencies indicates 12 incidents of gas cylinder blasts were recorded in 2020.

Other dangers as explained by police include cracks and blockage of pipes as well as the use of expired cylinders.  Ochola indicates that since many people who are welders are not even aware that gas cylinders have a five years’ lifespan, police officers should ensure such information is prioritized during the sensitization campaign.

Police tips on safe usage of gas cylinders and gas cookers by keeping them away from ignition sources and other flammable materials, keeping them in an upright position, and should be stored in well-ventilated areas to help prevent concentration incase leakage occurs or left on.

“Do not turn on the electrical appliances, use a mobile phone or lighter, if you smell gas. A gas cylinder of 10kg and above should be placed outside the kitchen, with periodic checks for leakage. Kitchen windows and doors should be left open for some time before the gas is ignited,” Enanga said.

The public is also cautioned against shaking the gas cylinders when checking the level of the remaining gas, but people are advised to bring the cylinder out and pour water on it. Once the water dries up, a person is able to know the amount of remaining gas in the cylinder. As a precautionary step, police have also encouraged people to always use a wet towel and cloth to cover the store or cooker to remove oxygen and prevent more fire.

Herbert Kanyali, an independent safety and health consultant, recently told URN that many appliances in homes could turn out to be very deadly explosives. Kanyali listed some of these home tools and implements including Liquefied Petroleum Gas [LPG], powered appliances like gas cookers, ovens stoves, microwaves, and also pressure cookers if mishandled.

For one to avoid deaths or injuries emanating from home appliances, Kanyali calls for regular inspection or observation since in most cases there are tale signs that could be a warning button for looming danger.

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