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FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS

 I once heard of a workman who used a flammable solvent for cleaning and spilled some of it on his clothing. After he finished the job, he paused to smoke. The instant he struck the match to light his cigarette, he became a human torch. I've heard of other cases where flammable liquids have caused serious fires, which resulted in a great loss of life and tremendous property damage. We use many kinds of flammable liquids every day on this job: gasoline, cleaning fluids, paints, and thinners, to name just a few. The danger of these materials can be controlled.  

SOME FACTS YOU MAY NOT KNOW

Flammable liquids themselves will not burn, as many people think. But as the liquid evaporates it gives off vapors that mix with the air to form dangerous gases that can be set off by the smallest spark. Take gasoline, for example. Gasoline evaporates at temperatures as low as 45OF below zero. As the temperature rises, the rate of evaporation increases and more and more vapors are given off. This also is true for other flammable liquids, except that the temperature at which they give off vapors varies with the kind of liquid.  

FOLLOW THESE COMMON SENSE RULES

If we remember a few simple common sense rules when storing, handling, and using  flammable liquids, we can help prevent this job, or any of us, from going up in flames.  

Keep flammable liquids away from open flame and sparks. This means that you should never smoke around them.  

Always use approved metal safety cans or the original manufacturer's container to store flammable liquids. Keep these containers closed when not in use, and never store them near exits or passageways.  

Practice good housekeeping in flammable liquid storage areas. Clean up spills immediately and then place the rags you used to do the job in a tightly closed metal container.  

Be careful not to get a flammable liquid on you. It not only could burn you if it catches fire, but it could cause painful skin irritation that could easily become infected. If you get it on you, wash it off as soon as you can.  

Never try to boost a fire with a flammable liquid. You are in for trouble if the fire flares up.  

DON'T TRUST YOUR NOSE - VENTILATE

Don't trust your nose to tell you whether an area or container is vapor free. Not all dangerous liquids give off vapors that you can smell. Some vapors are poisonous as well as flammable. Use flammable liquids only where there is plenty of ventilation.

Vapors given off by flammable liquids are usually heavier than air and collect in the lowest area they can reach. Without good ventilation to dissipate them, you have a potential disaster awaiting that one small spark to set it off.  

READ THE LABEL

Carefully read the manufacturer's label on the container of any flammable liquid before using it.  

FRIEND OR FOE - IT'S UP TO YOU

Like many other substances, flammable liquids can make a good friend or a bad enemy, depending on how you use them. Whether at home or on the job, treat flammable liquids with respect and use them for the purposes for which they were made.

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