Fueling can be DEADLY. Learn how to protect yourself. In todays world, we must accept change, or,,,. Fueling our automobiles today requires us to make another change. Last Thursday I was driving into a fueling station, or filling station as I observed a woman setting in her automobile while the gasoline was being pumped into her vehicle. I watched her as I stopped my truck beside the pump. Before I could exit my vehicle, she had stepped out of her vehicle and grasped the fuel pump dispenser, or gas pump nozzle as some call it. What was wrong with this scenario?????? Do you realize that this action can be DEADLY? Modern manufacturers use more plastics in everything we use. Plastics cannot be completely discharged of static electricity. Grounding plastics do not help. Every one of us has felt that jolting, wham of static electricity in our homes when the air is dry. Sometimes we even see the arc that accompanies the charge. The voltage must be approximately five thousand volts for the human to see the arc in the light of day.
Now the problem, while the driver is unattached from the gas pump nozzle, an electric potential difference can occur. Many things that we do unconsciously can create this situation. This may arise from sliding across the material used in the interior of the automobile. Simple actions like your hand sliding across your clothing, rubbing you hair or simple things like slipping your hand into your pocket can create dangerous a situation when the conditions are right.
What can happen is, the static charge will discharge from your body to the gas pump nozzle as your hands gets close enough to it. The flowing gasoline creates a rising vapor that surrounds the area directly over the gas pump nozzle. The gasoline vapor is ignited by the spark and a major fire is present. The ignition of the vapor creates a ball of fire up to five feet in diameter, which surrounds the person that is fueling the vehicle. The temperatures produced by this fire will cause third degree burns immediately and cover the upper portion of your body. To increase the conditions of this situation, most people will gasp or draw a breath or inhale quickly during such an incident. This action draws the flame down the throat of the victim. Therefore, now we have external and internal damage. Sometimes this combination causes death immediately.
The proper method to prevent such an event from happening, once you have removed your hand from the gas pump nozzle. STOP, step a distance away from the gas pump nozzle, and touch the vehicle. Thats right, simply touch the vehicle, to discharge the static electricity that may have build up on your body. It is wise to touch the vehicle on your way back to the gas pump nozzle. Sometimes, people do not like to slide their fingers or hand on their vehicle because of leaving a mark in the road debris collected on the vehicle or by getting their hands dirty. Another suggestion is to touch and remove your finger from the vehicle often on the route back to the gas pump nozzle to increase the risk of building up a static charge on the return trip back to pump gasoline.
You question, is this worth all the trouble? Is it real? Definitely. This scenario is occurring more and more often as more static related parts are being used in todays world. The situation is serious and even deadly. Many people have been burned seriously and even killed already. More common in dry air conditions but have also happened in humid air.
Please advise your family and friends of this safety issue. Thank you, Claude W King