Most of us don't stop to think that every time we refuel our vehicles we are in a potentially dangerous -- even explosive -- situation. Because it's a task we perform routinely, we become complacent about following common sense rules for personal safety.
Gasoline is a flammable, toxic substance and should be treated with care.
Gas station fires caused by static electricity are rare, but they do happen. The culprit is most frequently static electricity -- especially when the air is cold and dry, a common circumstance in our cold Canadian winters.
Avoiding potential risk
1. When you pull up to the pump, turn off the engine.
2. Stay outside your car while you refuel. Experts say that the risk here comes when a motorist starts refueling the vehicle and slides back into the car, building static electricity. When you return to the nozzle, the static may discharge and could ignite gasoline vapors.
3. Many gas stations no longer have the refueling latch that keeps the nozzle open. DON'T jam the nozzle open with your gas cap or other device.
4. Don't smoke or strike a match or lighter while refueling.
5. You wouldn't let your kids play with matches -- why would ask them to refuel your car, using a highly flammable liquid? Don't.
6. Avoid spillage -- don't overfill.
7. Don't siphon gasoline by mouth -- it can be fatal if swallowed.
8. Avoid skin contact -- gasoline can cause irritation.
9. Cell phones don't cause gas station fires, but they can be another source of static. Avoid using your cell phone while you refuel.
Gas can wisdom
1. Use only an approved portable container.
2. Put gas storage containers on the ground to fill.
3. Keep the nozzle in contact with the container rim.
4. Don't fill the container more than 95 per cent -- allow for expansion.
5. Cap the container tightly, making sure there are no leaks.
6. Secure the can so it cannot tip or slide during transport.
7. Never store the filled container in direct sunlight.
Bonus savvy -- Making the grade
"Gas grades refer primarily to the level of octane in the fuel, and in some instances the amount and type of additives," says Steven Keith, Director of Downstream Communications for Petro Canada. "Octane is the measurement of energy in the fuel."
How do you decide which octane level is right for your vehicle? Check your owner's manual or the inside flap of your gas tank.