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Managing Hazardous Liquid Safety Cans

Did you know that one gallon of vaporized gasoline can explode with the same force as 20 sticks of dynamite? Safety cans are constructed to minimize the potential dangers of leaks, spills, and ignition of flammable or combustible liquids. All safety cans or containers should be listed or approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as UL® or FM®.

Safety Cans 101

Safety cans that hold and dispense flammable liquids must be no larger than five gallons and have a spring closing lid, covered spout and spark-arresting screen inside the spout. They must also be designed to relieve internal pressure.

Although more expensive than typical gas cans available at convenience stores, safety cans are a good investment considering the dangers of transporting, storing and dispensing flammable liquids. They feature steel or high-density polyethylene construction, pressure relief venting to guard against rupture, and have spring-loaded, self-closing lids to control vapors and prevent accidental spills. Spark-arresting screens in the outlet and fill connections effectively prevent flashback ignition of vapors inside the can. There are two types of safety cans:

Type 1—One spout used for both filling and pouring

Type 2—Two spouts (one for filling and one for pouring), which enables accurate pouring without a funnel

Color coding your safety cans will differentiate types of liquids and avoid costly errors. Red cans are used to store flammable liquids such as gasoline. And blue cans are typically used for kerosene, while yellow cans are used for diesel fuel.

Safety Plunger Cans

Safety plunger cans are designed to dispense small amounts of solvents or other liquids in order to moisten sponges or rags without the risk of spills. When the spring-mounted dasher is activated, a small amount of solvent is pumped into the dasher cup. The solvent is then applied to a sponge or rag while the excess solvent is returned to the can for future use. The perforated metal fire baffle in the dasher cup reduces the escape of harmful vapors and protects against vapor ignition.

Oily Waste Cans

Oily and solvent soaked rags can be a serious fire hazard if they are improperly discarded. Safety rag cans, also known as oily waste cans, are designed to prevent fires caused by the spontaneous combustion of cloths, rags, or other materials saturated with flammable or combustible liquids. These metal containers feature self-closing lids to isolate the contents from fire sources and limit oxygen. At minimum, oily waste cans should be emptied daily to prevent rags from building up and obstructing the lid from closing completely.

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