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Dos & Don’ts at the Gas Pump. Static Electricity Fires – How to Prevent Them Cathy Burkett Extension Educator Rush County. Objectives:. How to handle, store, and dispose of gasoline safely What static electricity is and how it can affect refueling your vehicle

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Dos don ts at the gas pump
Dos & Don’ts at the Gas Pump

  • Static Electricity Fires – How to Prevent Them

    Cathy Burkett

    Extension Educator

    Rush County


  • How to handle, store, and dispose of gasoline safely

  • What static electricity is and how it can affect refueling your vehicle

  • Safety guidelines on vehicle refueling and gasoline storage

What is gasoline and how should it be stored
What Is Gasoline and How Should It Be Stored?

  • Liquid produces very flammable vapors

  • Store at room temperature

  • Store away from heat sources

Handling storing gasoline
Handling & Storing Gasoline

  • Approved containers

  • Disposal

    • Kitty litter, absorbent clay, paper, or rags for minor spills

    • Approved containers for larger spills

    • NEVER dispose into garbage, drains, toilets, or sewers

  • Long-term storage – add stabilizer

Precautionary measures
Precautionary Measures

  • Do not smoke or light matches where gasoline is handled or stored

  • Keep out of reach of children

  • Handle outdoors for ventilation

  • Keep containers tightly closed

Precautionary measures1
Precautionary Measures

  • Do NOT mix gasoline with kerosene or diesel

  • Store in a separate building, if possible

  • Refill lawn mower only when engine is COOL

  • Fill no more than 95% to allow for expansion

Static electricity
Static Electricity

  • Caused by imbalance of electrons on surface of material

  • Most commonly caused by contact and separation of materials

  • Shock occurs with transfer of static charge

How do refueling fires happen
How Do Refueling Fires Happen?

  • Static charge picked up when re-entering vehicle

  • Touching nozzle without discharging static electricity

  • A spark ignites fumes

How often do they occur
How Often Do They Occur?

  • Fires are reported to the Petroleum Equipment Institute Web site

  • Most static fires have been reported since 1998

  • No one knows how many – 175 have been reported since 1992

Three causes of static fires
Three Causes of Static Fires

  • 50% happen when the refueler returns to the vehicle during refueling and doesn’t shut the car door

  • 29% happen when the refueler unscrews the gas cap

  • 21% happen for unknown reasons

Why some theories
Why? Some Theories –

  • Self-serve gas pumps

  • More electronics in cars

  • Seat cover fabrics

  • Clothing worn by driver

  • Tires

  • Dissimilar car parts

  • More volatile fuels

Who are the victims
Who Are the Victims?

78% are women who re-enter a vehicle to:

  • Return credit card to purse

  • Get money out of purse

  • Check on the kids

  • Write a check

  • Get warm

  • Write down odometer reading

  • Use cell phone

  • Apply lipstick

Safety guidelines when refueling
Safety Guidelines When Refueling

  • ALWAYS turn off vehicle when refueling

  • STAY near vehicle fueling port

  • NEVER smoke, light matches, or use lighters while refueling

  • NEVER prop open the refueling latch – use only the hold-open latch on the nozzle

More safety guidelines
More Safety Guidelines

  • DO NOT get back into your car when refueling

  • DO NOT top off your tank

  • If a flash fire occurs, back away, contact attendant, and most important:


Guidelines for gasoline containers
Guidelines for Gasoline Containers

  • Use only approved containers

  • Set gasoline containers on the ground, donot leave in vehicle – trunk, truck bed

  • Keep the nozzle in contact with the container

  • Fill the container slowly to decrease the chance of static electricity buildup and to minimize spilling or spattering

Self service pump warning
Self-ServicePump Warning

This is a warning

sign that appears

on pumps today

New nozzle signage
New Nozzle Signage


  • Improper use may cause a hazardous condition

  • No smoking/extinguish all flames

  • Avoid static hazard — remain at nozzle

  • Do not top off

  • Licensed drivers only

  • Refer to posted warnings

New pump signage
New Pump Signage

  • Discharge your static electricity before fueling by touching a metal surface away from the nozzle.

  • Do not re-enter your vehicle while gasoline is pumping.

  • If a fire starts, do not remove nozzle – then back away immediately.

  • Do not allow children under licensed age to use the pump.

Additional information
Additional Information

  • Go online at:


    • click on Safety at the Pump

    • click on Static Shocks and How to Avoid Them

      A big thank you to Robert Renkes, executive vice president and general

      counsel of the Petroleum Equipment Institute, and April Mason,

      associate dean for discovery and engagement, Purdue University

      School of Consumer and Family Sciences, for all of their

      help and support in putting this program together.

And finally
And Finally

  • Be alert and be safe when refueling!