Tips for Handling Portable Gasoline Containers Safely

Mara Burnett discusses handling portable gasoline containers safely.

Summer often means more frequent use of portable gasoline containers. In addition to powering vehicles, lawnmowers, generators and other equipment, gasoline has many uses in everyday life. However, the same quality that makes it useful – its explosiveness – can cause terrible injury if not handled and stored carefully. Spontaneous ignition while filling portable gasoline containers (gas cans) has resulted in serious burns, other injuries, and even death. Just the improper storage of gasoline can result in both serious bodily injury and property damage. We’ve put together a few tips for handling portable gasoline containers safely.

Injuries that occur while filling portable gas cans are due to gasoline’s inability to conduct electricity well. As gas flows through pipes or hoses, static electricity builds up, but takes several seconds to several minutes to dissipate after the flow stops. If a charge of electricity discharges as a spark from the container to the grounded metal nozzle of the dispensing hose, it can ignite the gasoline.

The Following Tips May Help You Avoid Injury

Such fires generally occur when portable metal gas cans (although incidents with plastic containers have also been reported) are placed in the back of pickup trucks with plastic bed liners due to the insulating effect of the plastic surface. To prevent such accidents, the following precautions are advised:

  • Use only a state-approved portable gasoline container with a tight-fitting cap.
  • Remove the container from the vehicle, trunk, pickup bed, or other surface promptly and place it on the ground.
  • Keep container a safe distance (approximately 5 feet) away from the vehicle and other traffic.
  • Keep the nozzle in contact with the can during filling.
  • Portable gas cans are much smaller than vehicle fuel tanks and fill much more quickly. Leave the nozzle trigger-valve open during filling to control the flow.
  • Only fill the container to 95% capacity to allow for expansion if the temperature increases. This expansion, along with vapors generated when the gasoline is heated, can cause an over-filled can to leak or burst if there is no expansion space.
  • Wipe off any spilled gasoline or ensure it has evaporated before putting it in the vehicle.

Proper Storage is Critical

In addition to the dangers of static electricity, hazardous situations can be created through the improper storage of gasoline. For example, if over-filled gas cans are stored in the home or garage, heat expansion can create vapors that are both toxic and explosive. Accordingly, the following additional tips are suggested for the use and storage of portable gas cans:

  • Never siphon gasoline by mouth. It can be fatal if swallowed.
  • If transporting gasoline, the container should be kept in the trunk, with the trunk lid ajar for ventilation. If transporting by truck, secure the container to prevent sliding.
  • Do not leave the container of gasoline in direct sunlight or for prolonged periods in a car trunk in warm weather.
  • Always store gas cans in a cool and well-ventilated area, away from any source of heat or sparks such as a water heater, electric motor or car engine.
  • Never store more than one gallon of gas.
  • Do not store gas cans in the house or garage, but in a shed away from the house or any habitable structure.
  • Keep gasoline locked up when not in use.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher near gasoline storage areas.
  • Always keep gas out of reach of children.

Seek Advice if Something Goes Wrong

While it is common to keep extra fuel around the house for use with lawn equipment, portable generators and other uses, it is important to handle it safely. If someone is injured due to the negligent handling of portable gas containers or a defective gas container, consulting with a personal injury attorney can help determine the appropriate action in seeking a proper resolution.

For Additional Information

Let Mara Burnett Help Evaluate Your Personal Injury Claim

If you or a loved one is dealing with an injury suffered through no fault your own, Mara Burnett can help. Experienced and reputable, Mara and the other attorneys at Mandell Law provide hands-on care and a sincere commitment to victims of personal injury and harms of all kinds, including auto accidents and third party negligence. The Mandell Law Firm, in Woodland Hills, California is an aggressive personal injury law firm serving clients throughout the San Fernando Valley, the Greater Los Angeles area and Southern California. Contact Mara Burnett for a free consultation at 818.886.6600.

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