CO2 cylinder injures wedding guests
In August of 2019 a wedding DJ was using a carbon dioxide cylinder for effects during a wedding celebration. There was an incident reported as an explosion involving the cylinder and stating three people were injured. As in most immediate news reports, accuracy was not key, and there was not much follow up to the initial claims of the explosion. The news reports stated three were taken to the hospital, but the venue remained open.
Looking through some posts and trying to collect some follow up information, it appears that the carbon dioxide cylinder did not explode but spun uncontrollably on or near the dance floor. It appears the DJ may have been switching the tank, did not have it secured and might have left the valve open. There were also indications of something happening to the burst disk.
Most reports did agree that there was an uncontrolled escape of gas from the cylinder, causing it to spin, striking people and causing injuries. The victims in this case were gathered for a celebration and likely had no idea of the potential danger of the cylinder handlers actions. They trusted that person to keep them safe when handling hazardous materials. It is also likely that the person using the cylinder had no idea of its potential danger.
When dealing with high pressure gases, molecules are forced into a very tight space. All those molecules want to do is escape if given the chance. The cylinder is capped with a valve. The valve has a very tiny orifice with one or two openings. These openings are generally very small and force the gas in one specific direction. An uncontrolled escape of the gas, through one of these tiny openings, focused in a specific direction, creates propulsion. This thrust will have the ability to propel a heavy metal or composite cylinder great distances with a great amount of force. Enough force to injure a person or structure.
Any time you deal with a high-pressure gas there is always the potential of injury caused by uncontrolled escaping gas:
- Uncontrolled gas can cause cylinder to fall and spin and/or shear the valve resulting in rupture
- Uncontrolled gas in a specific direction against the human body might cause an embolism
- Uncontrolled gas escaping causes high decibel noise injuries
Some basic safety tips to prevent uncontrolled escaping gas
- Ensure valve is checked and is in proper working order
- Secure all cylinders to prevent falling during filling and operation
- Have protection from escaping gas (Cap or towel to reduce decibel levels)
- Ensure the valve opening or the burst disc is pointed away from the operator
Persons or facilities that handle cylinders on a daily basis, become very comfortable around cylinders. In one regard, this is expected, as cylinders are designed to be safe. However, it is up to all persons who deal with cylinders, not to take their safety for granted. Take a few moments each time you handle a cylinder to ensure it appears in safe condition, secure it during use and don’t forget it contains a lot of potential energy. Proper training and a few moments of safe practice goes a long way in preventing a cylinder incident.