Gasoline Safety Fact
The following consumer advisory and safety guidelines are
provided to help consumers avoid potential problems with refueling,
storage and disposal of gasoline. This information was obtained
from the American Petroleum Institute (API) web site. Please visit
www.api.org for additional consumer
guidelines on gasoline safety.
The API is aware of a few unusual fire incidents involving self-service
customers who were refueling their vehicles in cool or cold, dry
weather conditions. These incidents may be related to static electricity
buildup and discharge.
One of many possible causes of static electricity
build-up is reentering your vehicle during refueling, particularly
in cool or cold and dry climate conditions. This can cause a buildup
of static electricity similar to shuffling your feet on carpet when
the air in your home is dry. If you return from your vehicle interior
to remove the filling nozzle without discharging the static buildup,
in rare circumstances, a brief flash fire could occur at the filling
point if the static discharges and resulting spark ignites gasoline
vapors around the fill spout.
Safety guidelines on vehicle refueling:
- Always turn your vehicle engine off while refueling.
- Never smoke, light matches or use lighters while refueling.
- Do not get back into your vehicle during refueling -- even
when using the nozzle’s automatic hold-open latch. If
you must reenter your vehicle, discharge the static electricity
buildup when you get out by touching the outside metal portion
of your vehicle, away from the filling point, before attempting
to remove the nozzle.
- To avoid gasoline spills, do not over fill or top off your
vehicle fuel tank. The fuel dispenser will shut off automatically
when the tank is full.
- Use only the hold-open latch provided on the gasoline pump.
Never jam or force the hold-open latch open by using some other
object such as the gas cap.
- When dispensing gasoline into a portable gasoline can, use
only an approved container. Always place the container on the
ground and keep the pump nozzle in contact with the container
when refueling to avoid a static electricity ignition of fuel
vapors. Containers should never be filled inside a vehicle,
in the trunk, on the bed of a pickup truck, a flat bed or on
the floor of a trailer.
If a flash fire occurs during refueling, the consumer
should leave the nozzle in the vehicle fill pipe and back away from
the vehicle. Notify the station attendant at once so that all dispensing
devices and pumps can be shut off with emergency controls. If the
facility is unattended, use the emergency intercom to summon help
and the emergency shutdown button to shut off the pump.
Safety guidelines on filling containers:
- Keep gasoline away from ignition sources like heat, sparks,
and flames. Fact Sheet Do not smoke.
- Shut off the vehicle’s engine. Disable or turn off any
auxiliary sources of ignition such as a camper or trailer heater,
cooking units, or pilot lights.
- Only store gasoline in containers with approved labels as
required by federal or state authorities. Never store gasoline
in glass or unapproved containers.
- Portable containers must be placed on the ground, and the
nozzle must stay in contact with the container when filling,
to prevent buildup and discharge of static electricity. Do not
fill a container in or on a vehicle, including in car trunks
or truck beds.
- Fill the container at a slow rate. This will decrease the
chance of static ignition buildup and minimize incidents of
spillage or splattering.
- Manually control the nozzle valve throughout the filling process.
- Keep your face away from the nozzle or container opening.
- Avoid prolonged breathing of gasoline vapors.
- Never siphon gasoline by mouth. Do not put gasoline in your
mouth—gasoline can be harmful or fatal if swallowed. If
someone swallows gasoline, do not induce vomiting. Contact a
- Keep gasoline away from your eyes and skin, because it may
- Use gasoline only in open areas that get plenty of fresh air.
- Never use gasoline to wash your hands.
- Remove gasoline-soaked clothing immediately.
- Fill container no more than 95 percent full to allow for expansion.
- Place cap tightly on the container after fillingdo not use
containers that do not seal properly.
- If gasoline spills on the container, make sure that it has
evaporated before placing container in your vehicle.
- Report spills to the attendant.
- Use gasoline as a motor fuel only.
When transporting gasoline in a portable container
make sure the container is secure from tipping and sliding, and
never leave in the direct sunlight or in the trunk of a car.
Store gasoline in an approved container or tank. Gasoline is a flammable
liquid and should be stored at room temperature, away from potential
heat sources such as the sun, hot water heater, space heater or
a furnace, and away for ignition sources. Gasoline vapors are heavier
than air and can travel along the floor to ignition source.
Never dispose of gasoline by pouring it onto the ground or into
a sewer, street drain, stream or other water body, or putting it
into the trash. These actions are environmentally harmful and may
result in a fire, explosion, or soil, surface or groundwater contamination.
Fines and criminal penalties may be associated with improper disposal.
Excess gasoline in good condition can be added
to the fuel tank of a gasoline-powered car or truck. See manufacturer’s
recommendations. (Don’t dispose of gasoline/oil mixtures for
two-stroke cycle engines this way.) However, it is not easy to dispose
of gasoline that has deteriorated.