pump handle in fuel tank safetyHere's what to know when you gas up and go.
 
 

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The American Petroleum Institute offers these consumer advisory and safety guidelines on vehicle refueling to help consumers avoid potential problems with refueling and static electricity.

 

Gasoline Refueling Advisory and Safety Guidelines for Consumers

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 the 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 the resulting spark ignites gasoline vapors around the fill spout.

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A simple precaution to help avoid this potential problem is to stay near the vehicle's fueling point. 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.

If a flash fire occurs during refueling, you 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.

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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 build-up and discharge.

Here are additional safety guidelines for consumers 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.

For more information click here. To reach API's experts on this issue call API Media Relations Representative: Susan L. Hahn at 202-682-8118 or e-mail her at hahns@api.org.

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© 1995-2000, American Petroleum Institute
Updated: Tuesday, November 14 2000 14:36:47

Updated: Wednesday, March 5 2008