We use flammable liquids every day; they are all around us, at work and at home. They present hazards many of us have become complacent too. Flammable liquids can cause a fire, explosions and serious health effects due to exposure from fumes and vapor. We must be vigilant at all times and avoid these situations.
In order to avoid these dangers we should have a good understanding of flammability. Liquids with a flash point of less than 100 degrees F. are considered flammable. The flash point is the lowest temperature at which a liquid gives off enough vapor to form a flammable mixtures with air.
The vapors of flammable liquids present the most serious hazards. The vapors can easily ignite or explode. Flammable liquid vapors are heavier than air and may settle in low spots, or move a significant distance from the liquid itself.
The explosive concentration of vapors in air has a lower and upper limit. The lower explosive limit, or LEL, is the lowest concentration that will ignite. The upper explosive limit, or UEL, is the highest concentration that will ignite. If the vapor concentration is between the LEL and UEL, there is serious risk of fire or explosion.
To minimize the risk of ignition of the flammable liquid or vapors, follow these precautions:
- Always check the MSDS for the material you’re using to understand the specific hazards involved.
- Store flammable liquids in cool, well-ventilated areas away from corrosives, oxidizers, and ignition sources.
- Label all containers and cabinets with appropriate “flammable materials” signs.
- Never smoke in an area where flammable liquids are used or stored.
- Minimize the amount of flammable liquids used.
- Use only approved safety cans to store flammable liquids.
- Ground and bond flammable liquid containers to prevent static charge buildup.
- Never pour flammable liquids down a drain or sink.
- Dispose of empty flammable containers in an approved manner.
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as splash aprons and goggles when handling flammable liquids.
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