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Gasoline is Made to EXPLODE!

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Information that could save your life or prevent serious injury

Thousands of people are treated each year for burn injuries related to the misuse of gasoline. It is important to remember that gasoline has only ONE proper use - to power vehicles or machinery. Remember that gasoline is highly volatile! Just one gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 14 sticks of dynamite in explosive force.


Vapors from gasoline are also dangerous! Gasoline vapors are heavier than air; they flow invisibly along the ground and can ignite from a flame, spark, hot surface or static electricity causing a shattering explosion. When using gasoline, follow these safety tips for your protection:

  • Never use gasoline around a flame source. Be particularly aware of sources such as matches, cigarettes and pilot lights on stoves and water heaters.
  • Only use gasoline outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
  • Start barbecue fires with fuels labeled as charcoal starters - NEVER USE GASOLINE.
  • Fill the tanks of gasoline powered equipment such as power mowers, when engines are turned OFF and cold. Running engines can spark and cause ignition of the gasoline.
  • Don't transport gasoline in your car. A fiery explosion may result if there is a collision or if vapors escape.
  • Never siphon gasoline by mouth!  Even a few drops inhaled into the lungs may cause death.
  • To clean grease off hands, use an industrial strength hand cleaner. NEVER USE GASOLINE.
  • If gasoline is spilled on clothing, remove it immediately. Place clothing outdoors for several days before washing and drying so that gasoline vapors can evaporate. (Clothes dryers can catch fire if vapors are not allowed to evaporate first - even if the clothing has been washed!)


  • Never store gasoline in the house or garage.
  • If you must store gasoline, do so only in well-ventilated areas away from the house.
  • Use only approved safety cans which have flame arrestors and pressure-release valves.
  • Never use glass or plastic bottles for gasoline storage.
  • Keep gasoline locked up when not in use. Always keep it out of reach of children.
  • If gasoline is swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Seek medical attention immediately. 



Monday, January 6, 1997

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today urged motorists to avoid risk of fire by placing portable gasoline containers on the ground while filling them because filling them while they are located in beds of pickup trucks or in trunks or passenger car compartments can be hazardous.

Take the portable gas container out of your vehicle and set it on the ground while filling it with gas. Static electricity could cause fire to erupt while fueling when it is in your car or pickup bed, NHTSA Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D., said. Adding to the danger is the location where these fires could occur -- at a gas station while getting fuel for your snow blower or emergency generator. Cold, dry days in winter increase the chance of ignition, so preventive measures are important.

Dr. Martinez told owners who have bedliners in their pickups to be especially careful. A bedliner is a plastic, protective lining that fits inside pickup beds to protect the vehicle's surface from wear and tear.

He explained that the bedliner acts as an insulator, allowing static electricity to build up on the gasoline container while it is being filled. The flow of gasoline through the pump nozzle can produce static electricity. During fueling, this can create a spark between the container and the fuel nozzle, igniting gasoline vapors and causing a fire or explosion. This danger also applies to nonmetallic containers capable of building up a static charge.

According to NHTSA, there have been 24 fires and 5 injuries associated with static electricity discharge from portable fuel containers, some of which included serious injuries and extensive property damage. Most of the fires involved pickup trucks that had plastic bedliners. Reports also describe fires that resulted while portable gasoline containers were being filled in trunks and passenger compartments of vehicles, when carpeting acted as an insulator.

NHTSA recommends the following safe procedures for filling portable gasoline containers: 

  • Dispense gasoline only into approved containers.
  • Do not fill a container while it is inside a vehicle, a vehicle s trunk, pickup bed or on any surface other than the ground.
  • Bring the fill nozzle in contact with the inside of the fill opening before operating the nozzle. 
  • Contact should be maintained until the filling operation is complete.
  • Don t smoke while pumping gasoline.