As the temperatures begin to drop heading into the winter months, petroleum retailers should be aware of an increase in the potential dangers of static electricity-caused fires at the gas pump. While temperatures decrease, the amount of moisture in the air also decreases causing a greater possibility of static discharge. Under normal conditions, static discharge is purely an annoyance for everyone. However, if an employee or customer is in close proximity to a vehicle refueling at the pump island, the chance for fuel vapors to ignite from static discharge is a potential hazard.
Motorists refuel their cars many times per year, generally without incident. However, most incidents occur when the person refueling the vehicle returns to the inside of the vehicle during the refueling process. Static electricity may build up when a motorist re-enters the vehicle during fueling, and slides across the seat. When the motorist returns to the nozzle, the static may discharge at the fill port, potentially igniting gasoline vapors and causing a flash or a small, sustained fire.
Educate Yourself and Your Employees
In an effort to keep consumers safe and avoid any damage to the site, retailers should take every opportunity to educate customers and properly train store employees in the event of a static fire. With this in mind, OPW Fueling Components has taken a lead role in providing safety-training materials for consumers and, retail station owners and employees. In this lead role, OPW has produced an important refueling awareness video that includes information on how to avoid incidents. Watch the OPW Video "Do's and Don'ts at the Gas Pump".
Additional Helpful, Quick Tips at the Gas Pump:
- DO NOT get back into your car when refueling
- DO NOT top off your tank
- Always turn off vehicle when refueling and shut off any pilot lights or open flames
- Stay near vehicle port to avoid hazardous spills
- NEVER smoke, light matches or use lighters while refueling
- NEVER prop open the refueling latch
- If a flash fire occurs, back away, contact attendant and leave nozzle in vehicle
- Use only approved containers
- Set gasoline containers on the ground, DO NOT leave them in vehicle
- 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
- DO NOT allow children to refuel
How do you keep your employees informed about the dangers?
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