Presentation on theme: "Dos & Don’ts at the Gas Pump"— Presentation transcript:
1 Dos & Don’ts at the Gas Pump Static Electricity Fires – How to Prevent ThemCathy BurkettExtension EducatorRush CountyA woman who was seriously burned in a refueling fire on May 15, 2000, developed this program to inform people about the potential dangers at the gas pump. Cathy Burkett drove into the filling station, turned off the vehicle and got out, leaving the door open. After using the credit card payment, she put the nozzle into the vehicle and got back inside. When she got out of the vehicle the second time, she noticed the fumes were burning around the nozzle. Thinking the fire could go into the tank and blow up the car, she pulled the nozzle out of the fill pipe, dropped it on the ground and ran inside to tell the attendant to turn the pump off. After he called 911, they both noticed that her pants leg was on fire. Her polyester pants and nylon hose had melted, and she had 2nd and 3rd degree burns to 60 percent of her leg. She spent 18 days in the hospital, had numerous skin grafts, missed 3 1/2 months of work, and her leg is badly scarred and is insensitive to hot and cold.Cathy hopes that this program will prevent this from happening to someone else. Static fires have been a problem for a long time, but self-serve gasoline pumps have made them a consumer problem. They can be prevented by following a few simple procedures. Cathy didn’t know what to do when she was faced with a gasoline fire at the fuel pump. She hopes that this program will prevent a static fire or serious injury from happening to someone else.
2 Objectives: How to handle, store, and dispose of gasoline safely What static electricity is and how it can affect refueling your vehicleSafety guidelines on vehicle refueling and gasoline storage
3 What Is Gasoline and How Should It Be Stored? Liquid produces very flammable vaporsStore at room temperatureStore away from heat sourcesGasoline is termed flammable because of its low flashpoint and high vapor density. The flash point is the minimum temperature at which the liquid will give off sufficient vapor to form an ignitable mixture with air. Gasoline is heavier than air and tends to accumulate in low or enclosed spaces. The vapors can travel a number of feet to an ignition point, such as pilot lights or igniters. (One gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 20 sticks of dynamite.) Gasoline can produce vapors than can ignite at all temperatures, even at 45 degrees F below zero.Store gasoline in a cool and well-ventilated area. Keep it away from any source of heat or sparks such as a water heater, electric motor, or car engine.
4 Handling & Storing Gasoline Approved containersDisposalKitty litter, absorbent clay, paper, or rags for minor spillsApproved containers for larger spillsNEVER dispose into garbage, drains, toilets, or sewersLong-term storage – add stabilizerUse approved containers to store gasoline. Non-approved containers can explode or leak.Check with your local government or hazardous waste disposal center to determine the proper avenues for disposing of spilled gasoline.Place recovered gasoline and cleanup materials in approved, labeled containers for proper disposal.Disposing of gasoline into garbage, drains, toilets, or sewers could cause a fire or allow gasoline to seep into streams, bays, lakes, or groundwater.If gasoline will be stored over the winter or for more than six months, a stabilizer should be added to it. Stabilizers contain antioxidants, which prevent gum and other compounds from forming in gasoline; biocides, which prevent microbial growth; and corrosion inhibitors, which prevent the formation of rust and corrosion. They are available at auto parts stores.
5 Precautionary Measures Do not smoke or light matches where gasoline is handled or storedKeep out of reach of childrenHandle outdoors for ventilationKeep containers tightly closedGasoline vapors are highly flammable.Gasoline can be harmful or fatal if swallowed.Handle gasoline where there is plenty of fresh air; adequate ventilation will disperse the vapors. Avoid prolonged breathing of vapors.Keeping containers tightly closed will keep the gasoline vapors inside the container, thus minimizing evaporation.
6 Precautionary Measures Do NOT mix gasoline with kerosene or dieselStore in a separate building, if possibleRefill lawn mower only when engine is COOLFill no more than 95% to allow for expansionOnly mix approved additives, such as stabilizers or two-cycle engine oil, with gasoline.Store in the garage or a shed.Never refuel an engine if it is running or hot. The heat of the engine can ignite the gasoline vapors.Fill tanks no more than 95% to avoid gasoline spills. The fuel dispenser will shut off automatically when the tank is full.
7 Static ElectricityCaused by imbalance of electrons on surface of materialMost commonly caused by contact and separation of materialsShock occurs with transfer of static chargeStatic electricity can be generated when two materials come in contact with each other. That’s because all materials are made of atoms, which contain particles called electrons (negatively charged) and protons (positively charged). Typically, matter is neutrally charged, meaning that the number of electrons and protons are the same. The atoms in some materials hold tightly to their electrons. Other materials, however, will transfer some of their electrons to materials that touch them. This results in a “charge imbalance” — a positive charge on one material and an equal, negative charge on the other. When the materials move apart, each takes its charge with it. When an object with a positive or negative charge comes close to another object bearing the opposite charge, a spark may jump across the space between them. People, for example, can pick up a negative charge from contact with the cloth on a car seat. If the person then comes near or touches a conductor (something metal, or a human body, for example) electrons will “jump” to that material to dissipate the charge. The human body can generate and carry thousands of volts, and produce sparks identical to lightning, only smaller.Check the Web site click on “Static Shocks and How to Avoid Them.” This article gives lots of details about static electricity.
8 How Do Refueling Fires Happen? Static charge picked up when re-entering vehicleTouching nozzle without discharging static electricityA spark ignites fumesStatic electricity flash fires at gasoline stations are more common than they used to be. The percentage of fires is small, (there are approximately 12 billion fill-ups annually and perhaps 15 or 20 flash fires that are reported each year) but they can be catastrophic. Most of the fires occur November through February when the air is cooler and drier, but they can happen any time of the year. As of March 2004, thirty-nine states had reported fires to the Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI).When a person first gets out of the vehicle at a gas station, he/she may close the car door, touch the pay-at-the-pump area, open the fill pipe cover on their vehicle, remove the cap, and touch the gas pump nozzle and the octane pad – any or all of those instances of touching metal will discharge the static electricity buildup the person may have accumulated from being in the vehicle.When a person re-enters the vehicle, there is contact between the person’s clothing and the car seat. This is where a static charge can be picked up. If the person gets out of the car but doesn’t touch metal before touching the nozzle again, there can be a static spark that will ignite the fumes and cause a flash fire.Show video of flash fires.
9 How Often Do They Occur?Fires are reported to the Petroleum Equipment Institute Web siteMost static fires have been reported since 1998No one knows how many – 175 have been reported since 1992The Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI) has a report form on its Web site. People have to know to report the fire to PEI. The first static electricity gasoline fire reported was in About 175 have been reported, most since No one knows how many there actually are. The industry feels that the problem isn’t going away. The fires continue to occur.
10 Three Causes of Static Fires 50% happen when the refueler returns to the vehicle during refueling and doesn’t shut the car door29% happen when the refueler unscrews the gas cap21% happen for unknown reasonsWhen the refueler returns to the car during the refueling process, he/she can pick up a static charge from coming in contact with the seat material. Often the person doesn’t close the door, then slides out of the car without touching anything. As a result, any static buildup that occurs isn’t discharged because the person hasn’t touched anything that is metal.Flash fires that erupt as the refueler first unscrews the gas cap may occur when there is a lever inside the car to release the cover over the fuel intake area. The refueler goes directly to remove the cap without discharging the static first, causing a flash. There is no additional fire, since there is no fuel going into the fill pipe.Something else happens – the causes of these static electricity fires haven’t been determined. The source of ignition isn’t known.
11 Why? Some Theories – Self-serve gas pumps More electronics in cars Seat cover fabricsClothing worn by driverTiresDissimilar car partsMore volatile fuelsWhy are static fires happening more today? There are several theories.One of the primary reasons could be the almost universal switch to self-serve pumps, which require millions of people who are unfamiliar with gasoline to handle it once or twice a week.There are more electronics in cars: OnStar navigation system, CD players, satellite radio, cruise control, ABS, on-board diagnostics, electronically controlled fuel injection.Nylon seat covers tend to add to the potential for more static.Synthetic fibers – people are wearing more garments made of polyester and nylon. Rubber-soled shoes do not allow the discharge of static electricity; they act as an insulator and can keep static electricity from dissipating.Tires – there is more synthetic material in tires today.Dissimilar car parts – some plastic parts are attached with metal brackets.Fuels meant to be sold during colder temperatures are blended to be more volatile.
12 Who Are the Victims? 78% are women who re-enter a vehicle to: Return credit card to purseGet money out of purseCheck on the kidsWrite a checkGet warmWrite down odometer readingUse cell phoneApply lipstickMen usually do not re-enter the vehicle when refueling. One reason is that they carry their cash and credit cards in their wallets, which are usually in their back pockets.
13 Safety Guidelines When Refueling ALWAYS turn off vehicle when refuelingSTAY near vehicle fueling portNEVER smoke, light matches, or use lighters while refuelingNEVER prop open the refueling latch – use only the hold-open latch on the nozzleLeaving the vehicle running presents a number of ignition sources for fuel vapor.If you stay near the fueling point, you will see problems as they occur, such as the pump not shutting off when the tank is full.Gasoline vapors are extremely flammable, and it takes very little to ignite them.Propping open the latch prevents the automatic shutoff from working.There have been NO reported static electricity fires due to cell phone use. A University of Oklahoma research study of whether cell phones can cause fires concluded that there is no danger of using a cellular phone at the pump. However, to be safe, cellular phones and other electronic devices should be left in the vehicle during fueling.
14 More Safety Guidelines DO NOT get back into your car when refuelingDO NOT top off your tankIf a flash fire occurs, back away, contact attendant, and most important:LEAVE NOZZLE IN VEHICLEIf you must get back into your car during the refueling process, be sure to discharge static buildup when you exit the vehicle by touching metal away from the refueling area. When you first get out of your car at a gas station, you probably touch the door, the pump, the cover over the fill pipe, the credit card area on the pump, and the nozzle handle. Consequently, the static is discharged before you begin pumping fuel into the tank.Do not top off your tank. As gasoline warms, it expands. Without an air space available, expansion can force liquid out of the tank.In the unlikely event of a flash fire, leave the nozzle in the vehicle and contact the attendant. If the nozzle is pulled out without turning off the fuel, the flames will follow the gas and cause much more serious damage and possible injury. Damage and injury are more likely to occur when the nozzle is removed from the vehicle.
15 Guidelines for Gasoline Containers Use only approved containersSet gasoline containers on the ground, do not leave in vehicle – trunk, truck bedKeep the nozzle in contact with the containerFill the container slowly to decrease the chance of static electricity buildup and to minimize spilling or spatteringOnly store gasoline in approved containers as required by federal and state authorities. Never store gasoline in glass or unapproved containers.Portable containers must be placed on the ground, and the nozzle must be kept in contact with the container when filling, to prevent buildup and discharge of static electricity. The bed of a pickup truck and the bed liner act as insulators, allowing static electricity to build up in the can while it is being filled. The static electricity can create a spark between the container and the fuel nozzle, and bad things start to happen quickly. The same advice applies to automobiles. The carpet in a car’s passenger area or trunk can act as an insulator and present the same fire hazard.Fill the container slowly. This will decrease the chance of static buildup and minimize spillage or spattering.
16 Self-Service Pump Warning This is a warningsign that appearson pumps today
17 New Nozzle Signage WARNING Improper use may cause a hazardous conditionNo smoking/extinguish all flamesAvoid static hazard — remain at nozzleDo not top offLicensed drivers onlyRefer to posted warningsThis is new signage that appears on the nozzle scuff guards (the plastic cover on the top of the nozzle) made after April 1, 2003.
18 New Pump SignageDischarge 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.This is additional signage that has been approved by NFPA (National Fire Protection Association). Now the legislature or fire marshal’s office in each state has the option of making it mandatory for their state.
19 Additional Information Go online at:click on Safety at the Pumpclick on Static Shocks and How to Avoid ThemA big thank you to Robert Renkes, executive vice president and generalcounsel of the Petroleum Equipment Institute, and April Mason,associate dean for discovery and engagement, Purdue UniversitySchool of Consumer and Family Sciences, for all of theirhelp and support in putting this program together.There are many more sites on the Internet with information. You can do a search on “gasoline safety” or “static electricity” to find many of them.Distribute the handout now.If you choose to distribute the long handout, you can tell the audience that it lists nine Web sites that have more information on this topic.
20 And FinallyBe alert and be safe when refueling!