Most people don’t give a second thought to filling their car with gasoline. Such complacency can be dangerous because the potential for ignition and a fiery explosion is greatest during fuel transfer. It is gasoline vapors, not the liquid, which ignite. Because the vapors are heavier than air they behave like water, flowing downhill and pooling in low spots. Liquid gasoline that is spilled or vapors that are released because a vapor recovery system is not in use, can settle in pipes, sumps, drains, and underground vaults. These vapors are not visible, but remain ready to ignite under the right conditions. Gasoline has a low flash point so very little heat is needed. Even a spark developed by static electricity produces enough heat to ignite the vapors. Always treat gasoline with respect!
Never smoke while fueling a vehicle or doing any work with gasoline. A single cinder from your cigarette could ignite the gasoline vapors and quickly engulf you and your car in fire. Consider this especially if you leave your children in the car while you fill up.
Never do any “hot work”, such as welding or grinding on any container that has previously contained gasoline unless the container has been thoroughly purged of all vapors.
Do not overfill any tank or container. Gasoline vapors expand as fuel or the container warms up during the day. Spilled or leaked gasoline will easily vaporize and combine with air into an ignitable mixture.
Prevent static discharge when transferring liquid gasoline. Use hoses and
pumps that are approved for flammable liquid transfer - all components are electrically
interconnected, which minimize the likelihood that flowing liquid will create a
static charge. And don't use your cell phone while you pump gasoline! Sit the car if you must make a call.
Be very careful when siphoning gasoline from your vehicle, even if you are using one of those plastic, hand-cranked pumps.
Never fuel indoors. Released vapors remain within the building and can concentrate into an ignitable mixture as they settle into low points. Also, there are usually more potential sources of ignition inside a building than out.
Use appropriate portable containers.
While it is certainly safer to refuel at a gas station, there are times when you need to use a portable containers. These containers must have a label indicating that they are for use with flammable liquids. Among the safety features will be a self-closing cap to prevent spills if the container falls over, a vent to release vapor pressure if heat builds up, and a flame arrestor. The flame arrestor is the metal screen near the bottom of the neck or spout. This screen is not a filter; do not remove it.
Never use gasoline as a cleaning agent. Gasoline is produced to burn rapidly under a wide range of conditions. It is far too dangerous to use for other purposes.
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