Although I no longer break out into a cold sweat every time I strike a torch I do gulp and say a little prayer. It's not dying I fear. It's dying in agony.
The last time I used a torch, about two months ago, I thought I smelled acetylene while I was welding. I decided to just "finish the weld" before I'd shut down. No sooner than the thought flitted through my head then there was a brief flash of fire from the tip back to where the Quick Disconnects were, at the base of the torch.
Needless to say, I decided "to hell with finishing the weld" and immediately shut down. I haven't yet gone back out there to investigate. But metinks the QDs are leaking. I've decided to remove 'em from the torch handle altogether. I was always ill at ease with 'em even when they were new.
I think it's a good idea to replace the O/A hoses every couple of years, too. I was privy to an accident a blacksmith had while O/A cutting inside an enclosed and elevated man lift bucket. Apparently the hose either burst or began leaking badly. The plastic bucket filled up with acetylene and ignited. I'm told the victim survived but was badly burned.
Between stark terror of O/A rigs at one extreme and fumbling "what? me worry?" ignorance of their potential for disaster at the other, I like to stay exactly one notch on the "stark terror" side of healthy respect and attention to little details whenever I light a torch. My foolish desire to "finish a weld" could easily have made me toast.
Enthusiasm, when it trumps safety, is a bad thing. So everybody, be careful out there! If you're new to O/A you would do well indeed, to get the safety drill down until it's second nature. If you've been using O/A forever, you owe it to yourself to ask yourself if you're getting just a tad complacent.