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How Not to Blow Yourself Up at the Gas Station

In the past, you may have heard about cars blowing up at gas stations, allegedly because the consumers pumping gas were using their cellular phones. For once, however, mobiles probably aren't the real cause of at least 150 fires at gas stations, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

The real culprit: Static electricity that builds up in the body, especially when a person leaves the gas pump and returns to their warm car waiting for the pump to finish fueling their car. After returning to the pump, that built-up static electricity on your body, created from rubbing against cloth seats and carpeting, may discharge when you touch it, creating a flash fire from gasoline refueling vapors.

But with sub-zero temperatures still a problem in the Northern Hemisphere, you probably don't want to stand in the cold waiting for your gas tank to fill up either. Some common sense tips from the American Society of Safety Engineers to protect you and your car from static electricity:

  • Turn off your car's engine while refueling it.
  • Don't "top off" your gas tank, as that will cause spillage.
  • When filling a safe gas container, place it on the ground.
  • If you must return to your car while filling the gas tank, always be sure to touch a metal part of your car away from the tank (reducing the buildup of static electricity) before coming back to the refueling area.

Valvoline Car Care