An Unfortunate accident in the US is a timely reminder for all paintballers to respect air tanks and be very careful in how they are handled and repaired.
In the last week a Cherryville man died after an accident in his own home whilst trying to repair his CO2 Cylinder.
All paintballers in Australia should use this unfortunate incident to think about how they approach safety around compressed air and the potential risks involved.
According to the Charlotte observer, Neman Bated died whilst trying to apply tape to a leaking CO2 bottle in his kitchen. He suffered severe neck and chest injuries and was pronounced dead a short time later. Another person in the room also suffered minor injuries according to reports.
Whilst there are very few paintballers that still run CO2 this sort of issue could still occur if people fail to respect compressed air.
A warning went out to the scuba diving community a number of years ago when a wide range of scuba cylinders were found to be at risk of breaking and or exploding. This certainly has proven correct with several exploding since. There are many structural similarities between scuba and the air tanks used for paintball.
In most of these cases the flaw starts around the thread where the bottle meets the regulator. Once this area starts to fail the resulting explosion can occur at any time. Reading the articles on this unfortunate – it is quite possible that something similar happened to Neman Bates. If he was attempting to stop a leak with tape as reported the most likely place for this to occur is around the neck of the bottle.
There are some important rules when it comes to staying safe around Compressed air.
1. Respect it. It has been often said that a standard paintball tank has similar stored energy to a grenade. I am not sure if this is true or not but I certainly would not want to be around when somebody finds out. If something feels wrong – speak up and proceed with extreme caution. Repairing or maintaining compressed air equipment is not something to “have a crack at”.
2. If you are working on an air tank…. Depressurize it completely. I tend to assume that the gauge is also faulty and remove a burst disk to ensure that all is above board.
3. Do not modify any component of an air system outside the manufacturers instructions or guidelines. I am sure that people have been tempted to use a higher grade burst disk when it blows repeatedly but this could be the last line of defense against total failure of the bottle. When something goes wrong in a gas bottle the burst disk is designed to fail. If a burst disk continues o blow – chances are that there is something more serious going on.
4. Be careful what chemicals come into contact with your air tank. Most people are aware that you should not put oil near the air tank but this is only part of the problem. As a rule we refuse to have any petroleum based lubricants onsite – just in case. We only use innox on our rental markers as there is no petroleum base to the spray. WD40 – whilst great for home use should stay a long way from any compressed air device.
5. Check that your tanks are “in date”. As well as being a legal requirement in Victoria, it is also the best defense against unexpected failure. If you need a tank tested – give us a call and we will help arrange it. There have been several air tanks detected out of the required testing dates.
6. Watch our for your mates. Education is the absolute key here. If you see someone coming into the sport – make sure that they are aware of the danger posed by incorrect handling compressed air and CO2.
Please make sure that you take the time to pass this information on if you feel that it would be helpful.
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Mathew – Snipers Den Paintball Melbourne