An SUV carrying a propane-powered grill blew up while driving near the Central Florida Fairgrounds on Aug. 13.
A husband and wife were traveling in their KIA Sorrento when the wife lit a cigarette, causing the switched-on grill to explode, police say, reports the Daily Mail.
The explosion blew out the windows peeled open the roof, after which the car crashed into a pole.
Neither passenger was killed, but both suffered burns that were not life-threatening and were transported to a hospital.
The Texas Propane company, which bills itself as the largest supplier of propane in Milam County, published a blog post with pointers on how to transport propane cylinders safely.
When inside an enclosed vehicle, the cylinder must be secured in an upright position. In a passenger vehicle, it should be on the rear floor with the window open, or in the trunk inside a tote box with the trunk partially open to provide ventilation.
Cylinder retailers can provide a special latch for the trunk, which will keep it securely ajar without obscuring the driver's rear view, the blog post notes.
And if a vehicle is carrying more than five cylinders, it should be "placarded as per the placard requirements."
Regarding propane cylinder safety in general, James Novak of the St. Paul Fire Department has some comments about that, as reported by Today.
Regarding the most common grilling mistake, he says: "They turn on the gas, they leave the cover down, they hit the igniter and they get an explosion from a buildup of gas."
The solution is to keep the grill open, he says. "Turn it and light it right away. Don't wait and let it build up gas. And then you don't want to lean over the top so you singe your face off or worse."
Novak also recommends testing for leaks by spraying hoses and connections with soapy water. If the soapy water bubbles, that's a sign of a leak, "and you either need to tighten that up or you need to replace it if it can't be tightened up," he says.
Additional tips from experts cited by Today include:
- Don't keep hitting the igniter switch if it doesn't light right away. Instead, shut off the gas and wait three to five minutes before trying to light it again.
- Keep the grill at least three feet away from your house: That way, if there is a fire, it doesn't spread.
- Follow the instructions that are always printed on the side of grills and propane tanks.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, there are more than 7,000 gas grill fires annually, notes the Miami Herald. There are also 287,000 car fires every year, causing 480 deaths, though the number of car fires caused by propane cylinders does not seem to have been statistically documented.