Portable gas can safety

January 1, 2009

According to NIOSH, a number of fires have spontaneously ignited when workers attempted to fill portable gas cans in the backs of pickup trucks with plastic liners or in cars with a carpeted interior surface.

The cause of these spontaneous fires is static electricity generated by the gasoline flowing into the container. The insulating effect of the plastic liner or carpeting in cars prevents the charge from being grounded; therefore, the slightest spark release can easily ignite the gasoline and cause serious burns.

To prevent such injuries, NIOSH recommends:

  • Remove gasoline containers from vehicles before refilling.
  • Place containers on the ground at a safe distance from the vehicle.
  • Touch the container with the gas dispenser nozzle before removing the container lid to ground the static electricity charge.
  • Keep the nozzle in contact with the container when filling to prevent buildup of a static charge.