Fuel for Thought: How to Handle Gasoline Safely

At any price, gasoline can hurt more than your wallet. This article offers employees gasoline safety tips to encourage safe handling of this necessary, but dangerous, product.

gasoline pump

National Burn Awareness Week takes place each year during the first full week of February. Although a summary of key safety points is available below, addition resources are available at the American Burn Association website. Additional gasoline safety outreach materials are available via the U.S. Fire Administration.

Gasoline Safety Tips

Most gasoline injuries are preventable if gas is properly used and safely stored. Here are some helpful gasoline safety tips from the American Burn Association that you can use to train your employees to handle gas with care:

  • Don’t smoke or use matches, lighters, or other ignition sources anywhere around gas. And remember that gas vapors can travel far from gas containers in enclosed areas.
  • Use gasoline only in well-ventilated areas.
  • Turn off equipment and let cool before filling the gas tank.
  • Never use gasoline to start charcoal on a grill-use proper charcoal starter.
  • Never use gas as a cleaning fluid or solvent—or to clean your hands.
  • Don’t store gas cans in your vehicle.
  • Store gas in approved containers, in a cool, well-ventilated area (for example, in a shed or garage but never in the house), and only keep a minimum amount on hand.
  • Never use glass or plastic bottles for gasoline storage.

If Someone Gets Burned

Burns, whether from gasoline or some other source, can be painful and sometimes need medical attention. The American Burn Association recommends seeking medical attention for:

  • Burns to the face, hands, feet, genital area, or major joints (knees, elbows, shoulders)
  • Chemical and electrical burns
  • Burns that cover a large area

Minor burns can usually be treated with first aid on the job or at home by flushing the area with cool water for a few minutes and covering it with sterile dressing from a first-aid kit. Don’t apply ointment, salves, creams, or ice to burns, and never break blisters.

Even Breathing Gas Fumes Can Be Harmful

Gasoline can also be a health hazard if you inhale concentrated fumes for too long or get it on your skin. Symptoms of overexposure to gas vapors include:

  • Respiratory problems such as coughing and trouble breathing
  • Rash from skin contact with gasoline
  • Irritation or burning in the eyes from gas splashes
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness, numbness in arms and legs, or burning sensation
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Nausea or vomiting

If an employee experiences any symptoms from inhaling gas vapors, he or she should get to fresh air immediately. If symptoms persist, the employee should seek medical treatment right away. If an employee becomes unconscious from breathing gas vapors, co-workers should call 911 immediately.

Why It Matters…

According to the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Nearly 150,000 fires occurring in the United States every year are caused by gasoline.
  • About 500 Americans die every year in gasoline-related fires.
  • Flammable liquid fires cause $1.5 billion in direct property damage each year.
  • One gallon of gas has the explosive power of 20 sticks of dynamite!

For a printable “Don’t Fuel the Fire” poster via the American Burn Association, click here. It has a great summary of fast facts on gasoline safety.