How to stay safe at the pump

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

“It’s good to look at and just remind your self that there is a potential danger there,” Cary Lockwood with said.

Lockwood is talking about the next trip you make to the gas station.
“There are warning labels and it's nice to at least look at that warning label,” Lockwood continued.

From not smoking to turning off your engine when filling up at the gas station, these are just a few warnings people already know. How about when it comes to a static electricity warning?

Lockwood said, “This time of year when it’s cooler and dryer it's easier to build up that static electricity in your body.”

He said it can be as simply as sliding across your seat and hoping out of your vehicle.

“What ignites is the vapor in the area of that pump,” Lockwood said. “They [gas stations] do have vapor recovery systems on these pumps, that rubber boot. You want to make sure the rubber boot is covering the fuel neck the best it can.”

Since the mid-19-90s there have been almost 200 fires believed to have been caused by static electricity at gas pumps. The Petroleum Equipment Institute tracks the problem.

“If your car caught on fire and that nozzle is still in the tank, you want to get the heck away from there,” Lockwood said.

He says the best thing to do is instead of pulling out the nozzle from the tank, is to close down the main shut off. So how do you make sure you don't have any static electricity?

“The best thing you need to do when you get out of your vehicle is make sure you touch something metal,” Lockwood said. “This way people won’t discharge static electricity that has built up in their body.”

He said it's also important to not get back in your car once you started the fueling process.

“They're statically charged and when they go to finish the process by grabbing that pump out and then discharge it in that pump nozzle area [it can] ignite vapor,” Lockwood said. “This can catch your car on fire and catch you on fire potentially.”

When it comes to cell phones being involved in fires at the pump, according to the PEI website, they have not documented a single incident.