Winter is almost here, but that cold and dry winter weather is already with us. Gas pump safety should be one of your top priorities for the upcoming winter months. While it’s very rare that a static-electricity incident will occur during refueling, it’s certainly not impossible. In this week’s blog, we’ll cover how to stay safe at the gas pump this winter while refueling.
Gas Pump Safety
Static electricity builds up in your body as you drive your car. The layers of clothes you’re wearing rub together, your clothes rub against your seat, and the charge builds. In the summer, there’s usually enough moisture in the air for this electric charge to dissipate harmlessly into the water molecules in the air. But in the winter, there are fewer water molecules, which means the charge has no place to go. So, it builds up in your body, waiting for somewhere to go.
When you get out of your vehicle at the fuel pump, you have an electrostatic charge built up. It’s very important to discharge your body before you begin the fueling process. A tiny electrostatic shock might not seem like much, but it can be enough to ignite the fuel vapors that escape when you open your gas tank, starting a fire.
Discharging yourself is easy. Just touch your car door on the metal frame after you get out and before you begin to refuel. Metal is a good conductor, and it will conduct the charge away from you safely.
Getting rid of the charge is just one aspect of refueling safety. Here are a few more safety steps you should take while refueling:
- Don’t get back in the vehicle while refueling. This might be tempting on a cold and windy day, but you risk building up another charge. If you need to go back in the vehicle, make sure to discharge again on the door before you remove the fuel pump.
- Turn the car off while refueling.
- If you’re refilling a gas container, do so on the ground, not in the trunk of the vehicle. Always keep the nozzle in contact with the container while you fill it.
- If a fire does start, don’t attempt to put it out. Leave the area immediately and tell the attendant.