Dangers of Static Electricity

For the danger of electric shock - see here.

Static Electricity Causes Fires!

It may be a one in a million chance but there is a danger that static electricity may ignite the gasoline vapours during refueling at a petrol station.

People have been killed or severely hurt doing something as simple as refueling their vehicle or gas container. The killer providing the spark is sometimes ' Static Electricity'.

Static electricity can be generated by the friction of the gasoline being pumped into a vehicle or container or by you when you get out of the car or remove an article of clothing. Static charges are dangerous!

If static charges are allowed to discharge through the areas where there is petrol vapour a fire can occur. The results are frightening and may be devastating.

Most vehicle static fires are caused by a person re-entering the vehicle during refueling to get warm or get a credit card, etc. When they go back to the nozzle area they discharge their static in the vapour rich space around the refueling nozzle and BOOM!!

Sometimes the hose, nozzle or even the car can ignite the gasoline vapors from static discharges

Most gasoline container refueling fires due to static electricity are caused by the container not being filled on the ground but in the back of a truck, the trunk of a car or the step of a van, etc. There is then a potential difference between the petrol and the ground and a discharge spark can travel through it and ignite it.

But we also need to be aware of the serious dangers of sparks from static electricity.

Be Aware at the Petrol Pump

There are warnings at the gas pump such as

No Smoking

Turn Off Vehicle
No Open Flames

No Unapproved Containers

No Cell Phone Use

Cell Phones : have never been shown to cause a static fire at the gas pumps. The main problem with cell phones is that they cause the person refueling their vehicle or container to be less attentive to their surroundings and their static charges. Do not use a cell phone at the pump.

Recreational Vehicles: RV’s and trailers may have lit pilot lights on them. Avoid them at the gasoline refueling stations.

Other People Refueling Their Vehicles or Containers: Be aware of the dangerous actions of other people at the refueling station. If you see someone smoking, refueling with the vehicle running or refueling containers not on the ground, etc., avoid them, tell the attendant, stop refueling and move to a safe distance.


Take a look at this BBC page...