Red circle on Indonesian gas cylinders does not change colour as 'warning signal' of explosion

  • Published on June 14, 2024 at 09:20
  • Updated on June 14, 2024 at 09:26
  • 2 min read
  • By AFP Indonesia
The red circle found on LPG cylinders in Indonesia indicates they contain flammable gas, a spokesperson for the country's state energy firm told AFP, contrary to social media posts shared thousands of times that falsely claimed it indicated whether the container was safe. The spokesperson also said an odour is mixed with the gas during production so that those nearby can detect a leak.

The Indonesian-language Facebook post shared on June 7, 2024 contained a picture of a red circle around the valve at the top of a cylinder of liquid petroleum gas, which the majority of households use for cooking in the country (archived link). The image was annotated with a blue arrow pointing at the circle.

"Maybe we think the red circle in the middle of the LPG cylinder is just a colour variation. That is a BIG MISTAKE," read part of the picture's caption.

It went on to say the circle had an important function as a signal on the cylinder's condition, including whether it may rupture and explode. 

"If the red circle has changed to black that means the cylinder is no longer safe. Better avoid it and look for a safe place. Get out of the house because the cylinder would then be VERY DANGEROUS."

The post, which was shared more than 13,000 times, also claimed that the advice was from state energy firm Pertamina.

It was shared more than 3,600 times elsewhere on Facebook and viewed more than 17,900 times on TikTok.

Screenshot of the false Facebook post, captured on June 12, 2024

The false claim circulated a day after a three-kilogram LPG cylinder exploded in a house in Jakarta (archived link).

A woman suffered a minor injury to her leg in the blast, according to a report by local media outlet 

Police said the stove was not in use when the blast happened. The house owner suspected that the explosion occurred because the cylinder had not been hooked up properly.

However, the ring is not an indicator of the cylinder's condition.

Flammable material marking

Irto Gintings, corporate secretary of Pertamina's commercial arm, Pertamina Patra Niaga, told AFP that the red circle on the LPG cylinders could not turn black.

"The red circle is only a mark to show that the 3-kg LPG cylinder contains flammable materials," he said on June 11.

According to Indonesia's National Standardization Agency (BSN), every cylinder containing flammable materials that passes various safety tests must be embossed with a red circle (archived link).

Irto also said LPG is mixed with a foul-smelling gas to alert those nearby of a leak. 

"You also can check further by pouring soapy water onto the tube or valve and if there is foam formed it means there is a leak," he said.

Safety tips published by BSN and the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry here, here and here include placing the stove and LPG cylinder on a flat surface in a room with good air circulation, and making sure that the gas hose is not bent or pressed down (archived links here, here and here).

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