Follow these tips to stay safe at the pump. You’ll be surprised of what you should and should not be doing while gassing up your auto.
10. Getting Back into Your Vehicle During Refueling
If you’ve ever done this before, STOP it! Seriously. You don’t realize how dangerous this is. When you get back into your car while refueling, it could potentially cause a flash fire. That’s because exiting and re-entering a vehicle causes static electricity buildup–this is especially true during cool, cold and dry weather conditions. And, when you get back out of your car and touch the pump’s nozzle, the static may discharge and mix with gasoline vapors, thereby causing a flash fire, or perhaps even a small sustained fire.
TIP: If you absolutely must get back in your vehicle during refueling, make sure that when you get out you touch something metal–your vehicle’s door, for example–with your bare hand before reaching for the nozzle. And, whatever you touch, make sure it’s something that’s nowhere near the nozzle. And, if by chance a flash fire should occur, leave the nozzle in the fill pipe, back away from the car, and notify the station attendant immediately, so they can shut off all the pumps. If the station is unattended, use the emergency shutdown button to shut off the pump and the emergency intercom to call for help.
DID YOU KNOW?
Most refueling fire victims are women. They often return to their cars to get warm, check on the kids, get money out of their purse, put their credit card back in their purse, write a check, put on lipstick, write down the odometer reading, or use their cell phone.
9. Using Your Cell Phone
Speaking of cell phones, do you have any idea why so many gas stations have posted signs warning against the use of cell phones at the fuel pump? It’s not the reason you think. Yes, there’s a slim chance of your cell phone causing an electrical spark, but that has never actually happened–at least not yet anyway. But, the reason why gas stations don’t want you gabbing away on your phone is because it’s distracting. When you’re not on your phone, you’re more focused and alert, and therefore less likely to overfill your tank or drive off with the pump nozzle still attached to your car.
8. Overfilling the Tank
Overfilling the tank can cause the gasoline to spill on the ground and on yourself. And, you definitely want to avoid getting gas on your skin (we’ll tell you why later). Another reason you don’t want to overfill your tank is because gasoline needs room to expand. And, when you overfill the tank, pressure can build up, and that can cause a dangerous gas leak. So, instead of trying to get the last little drop of gasoline in your tank, pay attention to the fuel tank shut-off valves. After all, they are there for a reason.
Georgia-based fire prevention chief Brenda Thomas told Reader’s Digest that smoking poses the biggest risk of a fire when you’re refueling. That’s because cigarette ashes can ignite the gasoline vapors that are in the air. If a fire does start, leave the nozzle in place, back away from your vehicle and notify the station attendant ASAP, so they can shut off the fuel pumps.
-Don’t ignite lighters near a gas pump.
-Don’t light matches near a gas pump.
6. Leaving the Engine Running
Leaving the car running while refueling can be a costly mistake. Gas vapors from your car can mix with heat and electricity, and build up static electricity. And, as we explained earlier, that can potentially start a fire–especially during cold weather conditions. So, the next time you pull up to the pump, turn off the engine, put it in park, and remove the key from the ignition.
You should avoid using auxiliary 12-volt power sources such as phone chargers, cigarette lighters and cooking units (if you have a camper or RV) too, because they also have the potential to start a fuel fire.
5. Getting Gas on Your Skin or in Your Eyes
It happens a lot–at least the skin part anyway. But, you should avoid spilling gasoline on yourself. That’s because gasoline is toxic. And, when it comes in contact with your skin, it can cause irritation and rashes, and it can burn as well. If it does come in contact with your bare skin, wash the affected areas with lukewarm water and soap. And, if by chance you get some in your eyes, flush them with tap water for at least 15 minutes. If you wear contacts, you’ll need to remove them. You also want to avoid rubbing your eyes.
Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:
-NEVER use gasoline to wash your hands.
-NEVER use your mouth to siphon gasoline. It can be fatal if swallowed.
-Remove gasoline-soaked clothing immediately. Throw them away or wash them by hand instead of putting them in a washing machine.
-Avoid inhaling gasoline vapors over a prolonged period of time.
4. Letting the Kids Get Out
Unless your kids are teenagers who have a driver’s license and are getting out to refuel the car for you, your kids need to stay inside the car while you’re filling up. This keeps them from breathing in toxic fumes, and it also keeps you from getting distracted. After all, if you have kids, you don’t need us to tell you how distracting they can be when they start bickering with each other or start begging you to buy them a snack from inside the store.
And, whatever you do, don’t allow your little kids to operate the pump. We know you want to teach them how to be responsible adults, but there’s a right time for that. For now, just keep them out of harm’s way. And, if it’s that important for them to learn at an early age, they can always do so by watching you from INSIDE the car.
3. Putting Diesel Fuel in an Unleaded-Gas Tank
You’d think that since the diesel pumps are typically not even in the same location at a gas station as the gas pumps, that people wouldn’t mix up the two. But, at some stations, the pumps are side by side, and mixing up the two happens a lot more than you’d think, despite the fact that diesel pumps having bright green handles, an article published by Reader’s Digest said. What’s more is that diesel pump nozzles often don’t even fit into normal gas tanks, yet it still happens anyway–usually with drivers who are distracted or in a hurry. So, what should you do when you finally notice your goof? Number one: DO NOT start your car. Number two: Find a mechanic and ask him or her to drain your tank immediately! If not, you could end up doing some major damage to your car.
2. Driving Away with the Nozzle Still Attached
Okay, most of us have probably done this–usually because we were distracted or in a hurry. According to an article published by The New York Times, it happens pretty often–“at least once a month at any given gas station.” The good news is that breakaway nozzles are designed to stop fuel from spilling. The bad news is that you might have to shell out some major bucks–anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars–to repair the equipment.
1. Using the Wrong Portable Container
Make sure you use an approved container when pumping gas into a portable one. By “approved” we mean that the container should meet OSHA requirements. Because gas is highly flammable, it needs to be pumped into containers that are certified to hold gas.
Follow these tips as well for added safety:
-ALWAYS place the container on the ground when filling it up in order to avoid static build-up.
-Fill the container slowly to prevent splattering and spills.
-DO NOT fill the container all the way to the top. Remember: gas needs room to expand.
-If you spill gas on the container, make sure it evaporates before you put the container in your car.
-Make sure the lid is tightly closed once you’ve filled the container.
-Secure the container so it won’t slide or tip over.
-Never leave the container in direct sunlight or in the trunk of your vehicle. Gas should be stored at room temperature.
How many of these gas station sins are you guilty of? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!