Keep Safe This Summer: Use Caution When Filling Portable Fuel Containers
23 May 2000Keep Safe This Summer: Use Caution When Filling Portable Fuel Containers
CHICAGO, May 23 The following is being issued by Public Awareness Project: Safe Handling of Portable Fuel Containers: With summer officially kicking off this weekend, here's an important question to consider: If you need to use a portable fuel container, do you know how to do it safely? It's a task that must always be done with safety in mind, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the American Petroleum Institute and other safety and fuel experts. "Gasoline fumes are volatile. Static electricity can create a spark that could cause a fire if it's near gasoline fumes," said Commissioner Harold Hairston of the Philadelphia Fire Department, and past chairman of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association. Spring and summer bring many situations that may call for transporting gasoline or other liquid fuel in portable fuel containers, including for cars, lawnmowers, generators, boats, jet-skis and other vehicles and equipment "Grounding is essential to avoid any build-up of static electricity that could pose a risk," said Hairston. "Make sure the fuel container is grounded and stays grounded." Basic safety steps for filling a portable fuel container, according to the NHTSA, include: -- Place the fuel container (use only an approved container) on the ground, outside the vehicle, to help ground the container. -- Keep the pump nozzle in contact with the container when filling, until filling is complete. That helps maintain grounding. Slightly tilt the nozzle so it touches the rim of the container, rather than placing it dead center. -- Don't use an automatic pump handle device -- fill the container manually and slowly. That helps decrease the chance of static electricity build-up as well as spilling or splattering. -- And just as when pumping gasoline into a vehicle, don't smoke when filling a portable fuel container. Grounding, simply put, provides a path for an electric current to discharge safely -- the electricity is dissipated in the ground, when a portable fuel container is grounded. "Every time you pump gasoline, a charge of electricity builds up on gasoline as it flows through a pipe or hose and this charge takes several seconds to several minutes to dissipate after the gasoline has reached the tank or container," explains Bob Renkes, executive director of the Petroleum Equipment Institute. "That risk is avoided when you pump gasoline into your car, because both the gasoline dispenser and the vehicle are grounded. "But a portable fuel container may not be grounded. For safety, you need to place the container on the ground and fill it on the ground," he said. Additionally, static electricity could build up when gasoline is flowing into the container. That's why it's important to keep the pump nozzle in contact with the fuel container. That contact sets up a connection between the pump, which is grounded, and the container, to help make sure the container stays grounded.