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Using Dry Ice Safely: Excellent Rules For Safe Handling

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019
using dry ice safely

There are a few rules when it comes to safely handling dry ice. If you know what they are and how to follow them, there is minimal danger. These rules are especially important to know if you are someone who does not deal with handling dry ice on a regular basis. If you’re using dry ice for the first time to produce foggy theatrical effects or to ship a casserole across the country–this is what you need to know.

Don’t store dry ice in an airtight container

This is important if you purchase dry ice from the store and plan to transport it. Dry ice is usually sold in plastic bags and then placed in a container for transport. You’ll want to use a box or cooler with a lid in order to insulate the dry ice. The important thing is to make sure you leave just a little breathing room when you close the lid. If the container has a seal, be sure it is dry ice compatible and ensure that it doesn’t prevent the gas from escaping. 

The reason you need to ensure there is some ventilation is because dry ice sublimates from a solid into a vapor. As the vapor builds up the resulting pressure can cause the container to explode if there is nowhere for it to go. 

Avoid direct skin contact. 

The temperature of dry ice comes in at -109 F, making it an extremely cold substance. So cold, that if it comes into contact with bare skin, it can immediately cause frostbite. You can avoid injuring your skin by wearing cotton gloves and tongs when you handle dry ice.

However, in the event that dry ice comes into contact with skin, you’ll need to know how to treat it.

How to treat a dry ice burn

Generally, you would treat a dry ice burn in the same way you treat a burn from heat. If the injury is a red area on the skin, it should heal relatively quickly. Only if there is an open blister should you apply burn ointment and a band-aid. 

If the injury is that of a more severe case of frostbite, head to the emergency room for medical attention promptly. Thankfully, it is very uncommon to have serious cases of frostbite from dry ice.

Only handle in a well-ventilated space

Carbon dioxide gaseous form is heavier than oxygen. As a result, the carbon dioxide(g) released by the sublimation of dry ice will displace the oxygen in the air, presenting the risk of asphyxiation. Because it is heavier, you’ll find the highest concentrations of carbon dioxide(g) closest to the ground, which is why children and pets should be closely supervised or not permitted near when handling dry ice.

You can avoid the risk of suffocation by only handling dry ice in a room that is well ventilated. Never handle it in a small enclosed space. Slightly elevated levels of carbon dioxide typically don’t pose a serious risk to your health, so as long as you ensure there is good air circulation where dry ice is being handled and stored, you should be safe. However, it’s important to learn about the symptoms of carbon dioxide intoxication so that you can recognize the signs and act promptly to ensure the health of yourself and others around you.

Know the signs of carbon dioxide intoxication

If a person is exposed to high levels of carbon dioxide, they will show the signs of carbon dioxide poisoning (also referred to as carbon dioxide intoxication) which are:

  • Headache
  • Deeper breathing
  • Labored breathing
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Muscles may begin to twitch
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Unconsciousness 

If CO2 levels rise to 10%, unconsciousness will occur in less than one minute.

Don’t ingest it

If dry ice is ingested, it should be considered a medical emergency. The extreme cold of dry ice can damage the delicate tissues of the digestive system. Additionally, the pressure buildup that will result from the released gas is also a serious concern. 

Dry ice will sink if put in a container of liquid, so accidental ingestion is somewhat uncommon, but is still a very real concern. As a result, you should not allow individuals who are under the influence, children, or pets to be around dry ice unsupervised.

Pacific Dry Ice: The Supplier Of Choice From Coast To Coast

Dry ice is a versatile product that can be used in a wide variety of commercial and industrial applications. If you are looking for dry ice in large quantities, contact the experts at Reliant Dry Ice today. We are passionate about providing high-quality and reliable products for all of your needs. Call us at (806) 335-6600 or Contact Us by email to learn more About Us, our Products, and Dry Ice Blasting.