LPG Safety
  |  First Published: May 2005

All camping gear needs to be regularly maintained. For larger items like the tent, tables, chairs and bedding, this is quite obvious, but lots of people overlook their stove and gas bottles. General cleanliness will help keep your stove working for many years.

First of all, look for rust on the burners and areas where tubing enters the stove. Check the hoses and copper tubing for signs of wear, dents or kinks as these can make the appliance malfunction. Replace hoses if they show any signs of being unsafe. Check the flame on all burners and if they are yellow instead of blue, adjust the burner. There can also be corrosion inside the burner so if you have taken it out of the stove, gently tap any loose rust out before replacing it. There are a few seals that really should be replaced from time to time. The first of these are located behind the knobs at the front of the stove. This seal is a small ‘O’ ring, which can be obtained from all camping stores and is quite easy to replace. When doing so, do not use too much pressure or you will distort the rings.

The other seal is on the end of the gas hose. This should be checked every time you attach the lead to the stove or any other appliances such as lights. This particular seal is responsible for most gas bottle fire incidents. Again these seals are available at camping stores and some gas fitters. If you are in any doubt, take your appliances to a licensed fitter and they will explain how to replace these seals so that you can do them next time.

Next on the list is the gas bottle. Always do a visual check to make sure there are no dents or obvious damage to the outer surface. Check the date to make sure that the bottle is within the legal use-by date. Remember that these dates are not devised to make you spend more money!

There is a limited life span on the seals within the tap system and if that is beyond the use-by date then gas leaks could occur. Never attempt to repair, remove or replace cylinder valves. This is a professional job, not one for the home handyman.

Once you have attached the gas bottle to the stove (which is turned off), turn on the tap on the gas bottle and smell for leaks. Using a brush and liquid soap, apply it to the join area: if there is a leak the soap will bubble. If not, then the correct connection has been made and it is safe to use.

Regulators are sometimes needed to use appliances such as BBQs. However, you can buy an adaptor to use with regulators, so there is no need to purchase several gas cylinders. If your gas cylinder uses a regulator, check it regularly for signs of wear. Occasionally, the diaphragm inside perishes and needs to be replaced by professionals. Remember that gas is stored under pressure and if it isn’t used safely, it may explode. Cylinders should always be stored and used in an upright position. Lying them down brings the liquid into contact with the safety valve, preventing correct operation.

You should always turn off the cylinder valve while the appliance is still operating, then turn off the appliance valve. This allows the hose to empty, so that when you disconnect it from the appliance there is little risk of fire.

Never expose gas cylinders to extreme heat. When camping, try to keep your gas bottle in a shaded area and remember that smaller bottles absorb more heat than larger ones. If the bottle does get hot, don’t move it but shelter it from the sun. If it becomes really hot, pour water over it until it reaches a suitable temperature.

Always check that the shut-off valve is clear and that nothing is resting on the cylinder. Make sure that all appliances are turned off correctly before leaving the camping area or retiring for the night. Gas is heavier than air but it is safer left outside the tent at night, just in case.

By following these simple guidelines, you should get years of service from your equipment. Happy camping.

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