following is the text from a July 14th Fox 6 News Story
you don't know at the gas station can cause injury or even death.
July 14, 2002 -- You carry it with you all the time, and it could
spark a deadly explosion at the gas station. In the past three
years, static electricity is blamed for at least 150 "flash
fires" at the gas pump and may have caused hundreds of others,
according to the national Petroleum Equipment Institute.
you get out of your car, your clothes rub across your car seat.
That "charges" your body with as much as 60,000 volts
of static electricity. That electricity usually is not a problem
at the gas pump because you discharge the static energy when you
touch your gas cap, the gas pump, or the outside of your car.
But if you get back into your vehicle while you are refueling
and then proceed directly to the nozzle (in your gas tank), the
static that has re-charged your body can cause a spark, followed
by a powerful flash, a fire inside your gas tank and even an explosion.
just stood there and thought 'my gas tank is on fire.' I really
couldn't believe it," recalls Charlene Pittman. The Wisconsin
woman experienced a flash fire while filling her gas tank at a
service station in Cameron, WI. "I got back in my van to
get my credit card and when I got back out and grabbed the nozzle,
it just ignited and was on fire." The fire burned some of
Pittman's hair, but she escaped serious injury. Other flash fire
victims have not been as lucky.
1996, Anne Goucker died at a gas station in Sand Springs, OK.
Surveillance video shows the pump she was using to fuel her car
exploded, showering Goucker with flaming gasoline. The explosion
was caused by a flash fire.
learning of these fires, some gas stations are now posting signs
that warn consumers about the dangers of static electricity at
the gas pump. "This is happening and when it does, it can
be very serious," says PEI Vice President Bob Renkes.
believes there are between 300 and 500 flash fires each year in
the United States, and most of them go unreported. The organization
recommends you take the following steps to avoid the risk of a
Do NOT get back in your vehicle while refueling. Stay outside
with the gas pump.
2. Every time you exit your vehicle at a service station, touch
something BEFORE you touch the gas nozzle to discharge your static
3. If a flash fire does occur, do NOT remove the gas nozzle from
your vehicle. This will expose the fire to more oxygen and possibly
trigger an explosion. Instead, immediately tell the service station
attendant to press the "all stop" button to stop the
flow of gasoline.
more information about static electricity-caused flash fires,
go to pei.org.
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