Gasoline is one of the most flammable liquids there is. Its
vapors are completely invisible, very heavy, and will secretly travel like a snake from room to room. That's why you should
never store gasoline inside your home or basement. Always keep gasoline cool, stored in a tightly sealed,
approved safety gasoline container that is prominently labeled and out of reach of children. Keep this container in your garage
(detached is preferred) or an outside storage building. -- Bob Vila
Here's how to handle, store, and dispose of gasoline safely.
Gasoline is an important part of our everyday lives. It lets
us run our cars and trucks, getting the kids to school and the groceries home. It helps us keep our grass and gardens looking
good, powering mowers and lawn care equipment. It lets us get away on vacation, running boats, off-road vehicles, and motorcycles.
But gasoline can be dangerous if not handled or stored properly.
Gasoline should only be used for its intended purpose - as a motor fuel - and stored only when absolutely necessary. It should
not be used as a solvent, cleaner, barbecue starter or for any other non-engine use.
That's why you should take the following precautions when handling,
storing, and disposing of gasoline. There's a lot of life in a gallon of gas - if you handle it safely.
What are some of the standards and regulations regarding
storage of flammable liquids such as gasoline? Your local and state governments
are the first places you should check for standards and regulations on gasoline. There are numerous codes, standards, and
regulations that cover storage and handling of gasoline within the United States and Canada. For example, fire codes and regulations
restrict the amount of gasoline an individual homeowner can store* (usually no more than 25 gallons), in approved containers
of less than five gallons capacity each. The use of tanks or storage of quantities larger than 25 gallons is typically regulated.
Most states restrict the amount of gasoline you are allowed to carry in containers in your vehicle. Fire codes also regulate
the amount and type of gasoline storage allowed in other occupancies, including service stations, garages, car dealers, hospitals,
and commercial and industrial businesses. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) establishes codes and standards
for fire-related safety issues, which can be incorporated into binding regulations. Many of these codes have been adopted
by regulation in many communities. A partial list of some of these codes includes:
NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code
NFPA 30A, Automotive and Marine Service Stations Code
NFPA 37, Standard for the Installation and Use of Stationary Combustion
Engines and Gas Turbines
NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems
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What precautions should be taken when filling a gasoline
Keep gasoline away from ignition sources like heat, sparks,
Do not smoke.
Shut off the vehicle's engine. Disable or turn off any auxiliary
sources of ignition such as a camper or trailer heater, cooking units, or pilot lights.
Only store gasoline in containers with approved labels as required
by federal or state authorities. Never store gasoline in glass or unapproved containers. Portable containers must be placed
on the ground, and the nozzle must stay in contact with the container when filling, to prevent buildup and discharge of static
electricity. Do not fill a container in or on a vehicle, including in car trunks or truck beds. (Placing the container on
the ground minimizes any static electricity buildup that could lead to a spark and cause a fire.)
Fill the container at a slow rate. This will decrease the chance
of static ignition buildup and minimize incidents of spillage or splattering.
Manually control the nozzle valve throughout the filling process.
Keep your face away from the nozzle or container opening.
Avoid prolonged breathing of gasoline vapors.
Never siphon gasoline by mouth. Do not put gasoline in your
mouth - gasoline can be harmful or fatal if swallowed. If someone swallows gasoline, do not induce vomiting. Contact a doctor
Keep gasoline away from your eyes and skin, because it may cause
Use gasoline only in open areas that get plenty of fresh air.
Never use gasoline to wash your hands.
Remove gasoline-soaked clothing immediately.
Fill container no more than 95 percent full to allow for expansion.
Place cap tightly on the container after filling - do not use
containers that do not seal properly.
If gasoline spills on the container, make sure that it has evaporated
before you place the container in your vehicle.
Report spills to the attendant.
Use gasoline as a motor fuel only.
When transporting gasoline in a portable container make sure
the container is secure from tipping and sliding, and never leave in the direct sunlight or in the trunk of a car.
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What is the safest way to store and handle gasoline? Gasoline must be stored in an approved container or tank. Gasoline containers must
also be provided with an approved label as required by federal and state authorities. Storage in anything other than an approved
container is strictly prohibited by fire prevention codes.
Gasoline is a flammable liquid and should be stored at room
temperature, away from potential heat sources such as the sun, a hot water heater, space heater or a furnace, and away from
ignition sources. Gasoline vapors are heavier than air and can travel along the floor to ignition sources. Therefore, appliance
pilot lights or igniters should be kept more than 50 feet from where gasoline is stored or handled, and elevated. Other precautionary
Do not smoke where gasoline is handled or stored.
Always keep gasoline out of reach from children.
For better ventilation, it is best to handle gasoline outdoors.
Keep gasoline containers tightly closed and handle them gently
to avoid spills.
Do not mix even a small amount of gasoline with kerosene or
Do not use gasoline in kerosene heaters or lamps.
Store gasoline in a building separate from the house or place
of occupancy, such as a shed or garage.
Put gasoline in a small engine (like a lawnmower) only when
the engine and attachments are cool.
Storage of gasoline requires developing precautions for spill
cleanup. Minor spills should be absorbed with sawdust, paper or rags. Larger spills may be contained and collected. Check
with your local government or hazardous waste disposal center to determine the proper avenues for disposing of spilled gasoline.
Place recovered gasoline and cleanup materials in approved, labeled containers for proper disposal. Never dispose of spilled
gasoline or cleaning materials on the ground or into your garbage, drains, toilets or sewers. If you do, it might cause a
fire, or seep into streams, bays, lakes or your groundwater.
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How long can gasoline be safely stored? If the container or gas tank will not be used right away, will be exposed to direct sunlight, or will be stored at
temperatures above 80° F much of the time, add a fuel stabilizer/additive to the gasoline when you first buy it, prior to
storage. Fuel stabilizers contain antioxidants, which prevent gum and other compounds from forming on gasoline; biocides,
which prevent microbial growth; and corrosion inhibitors, which prevent the formation of rust and corrosion. Fuel stabilizers/additives
are available at auto parts stores.
Many manufacturers of engines put restrictions on the amount
of time gasoline should be stored before use in engines. Always refer to the manufacturer's recommendations. Freshness is
improved if the container or gas tank is stored in a cool place and is kept almost 95 percent full. However, leave some headroom
for gasoline to expand if it warms up in storage. Without an airspace, expansion will force liquid gasoline out of the container
or distort the container.
What is the proper way to dispose of gasoline? Never dispose of gasoline by pouring it onto the ground or into a sewer,
street drain, stream or other waterbody, or putting it into the trash. These actions are environmentally harmful and may result
in a fire, explosion, or soil, surface or groundwater contamination. Fines and criminal penalties may be associated with improper
Excess gasoline in good condition can be added to the fuel tank
of a gasoline-
powered car or truck. See manufacturer's recommendations. (Don't dispose of gasoline/oil mixtures for two-stroke
cycle engines this way.) However, it is not easy to dispose of gasoline that has deteriorated. There are organizations that
will help dispose of gasoline in an environmentally responsible way. Finding the best option may take some researching. Sources
of information are your community's fire department, recycling center, and hazardous waste disposal center. Check the government
pages of your phone book to locate these organizations.
Commercial organizations are usually listed in the Yellow Pages
under Environmental and Ecological Services and Oils, Waste. You may have to pay for disposal. Therefore, try to purchase
only the amount of gasoline that you absolutely need.
Back to top This information has been extracted from a variety
of petroleum company publications. Language may vary from company to company.
Whom should I contact for further information about gasoline?
Contact your local fire department or local government to familiarize
yourself with your local fire and building codes regarding storage of gasoline. You may also request a Material Safety Data
Sheet (MSDS) covering the potential fire, health and safety hazards of gasoline, from your fuel supplier or service station
dealer. If you have further questions, you may want to contact the National Safety Council or the National Fire Protection Association. The National Safety Council is a clearinghouse for information
on storage and handling of flammable and/or combustible liquids (including gasoline). The National Fire Protection Association
develops codes and standards as well as research and education for fire and related safety issues.
Many of us must store some gasoline around our homes to operate
lawnmowers, tillers, chainsaws and so on. But if stored improperly, a fire or explosion could result, destroying the house
and causing injury or death. Gasoline is a product designed to fuel internal combustion engines. It is a highly volatile liquid,
and its vapors can be ignited easily by a spark, flame or other hot object. When mixed with air in the right proportions,
the vapor of one cup of gasoline has the explosive power of about five pounds of dynamite, enough destructive force to destroy
any house or car.
Of course there are other dangers which can be presented by
the improper handling and storage of gasoline and other flammable materials, such as using these materials in the wrong engine
or appliance and poisoning. Let's look into some safe ways to handle and store gasoline.
How many times have you seen people
pumping gasoline into milk jugs and the like and then putting it in the trunk of the car or the back of the truck to haul
it home? Have you ever wondered how they make it home without setting the vehicle on fire, or how they keep the house from
burning days later when the fuel expands, possibly rupturing the jug or blowing the top off? Milk jugs, anti-freeze jugs,
glass containers and many 'gas cans' are not suitable for carrying or storing gasoline.
Some plastics become brittle with age and are incompatible with
gasoline. Other containers are not strong enough to withstand the pressures of expansion and contraction caused by temperature
changes. In addition, some containers sold as gas cans usually cannot be sealed well enough to prevent spilling.
The best containers for handling
gasoline are Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual
(FM) approved safety cans (see Figure 1). Safety cans are available in several sizes and have various mechanisms for opening
the valve to pour the liquids. Funnel spouts can be added to make pouring easier and reduce spills. Although the cost is somewhat
more than the cheap cans at the hardware store, they are much safer and will outlast several of the others. Both UL and FM
have certain requirements which must be met before a safety can is allowed to carry their approval. The primary features of
safety cans, as required by the testing laboratories, are listed below:
Stability: The cans must remain stable when filled and placed on a 30 degree slope.
Leakage: When a filled safety can is inverted, the valve cannot leak more than four drops per minute over a period of five
minutes (UL) or 10 minutes (FM). This test must be passed before and after 5,000 (FM) or 10,000 (UL) normal opening/closing
operations of the valve. In addition, the seams and joints are examined under pressure for leaks.
Strength: UL tests the body strength with a hydrostatic test of 25 psi. FM tests the strength of the spout and carrying handle
by applying loads from 25-125 pounds on the pouring spout, and from 75-250 pounds on the handle, depending on the size of
Fire Exposure: FM places a gas filled safety can in a large flat pan of water on which one inch of fuel is floated
and allowed to burn (about eight minutes). The can must vent internal pressure during the fire exposure and retain the contents
Flame Arrester: FM checks the flame arrester by passing natural gas through the screen and burning it on the other side.
When the gas is shut off, the flame must not flash back through the arrester.
Abuse: FM requires a full can to withstand a three foot drop onto a concrete floor without sufficient damage to cause leakage.
Non Metallic Materials: If the can is not made of metal, additional test requirements must be met. The container must be compatible
with various flammable liquids, impermeable to gasoline and it must meet puncture resistance requirements.
HAULING GASOLINE IN VEHICLES
Obviously there will be
times when it is necessary to carry a container of gasoline in your car or truck, but try to keep it to a minimum. Hauling
gasoline can be dangerous. When you must carry gas, secure the can so that it will not slide around or tip over if you must
make sudden stops or turns. Remove the container as soon as you get where you are going.
WHEN YOU GET IT HOME
Storing gasoline and other highly
flammable liquids at home is also dangerous if not done properly. The best way to store gasoline is in a well ventilated area
separate from the house. The location should have no electrical equipment, open flames or other sources of ignition present.
In addition, the location should be protected from the heat of the summer sun to keep evaporation to a minimum.
Do not store gasoline in the basement of your home or in the
utility room. The furnace, water heater, clothes dryer or any of several other items could ignite fumes which may leak from
the can and travel considerable distances. If you do not have a suitable storage area, consider building a cabinet outside
your house for storage or purchasing a commercially available flammable liquid storage cabinet, available from safety equipment
suppliers. In addition, never put gasoline or any other nonfood material in a container which resembles a food container.
Keep gasoline and other dangerous materials locked up. These practices will prevent children from getting to the material
and being accidentally poisoned.
Never smoke when handling gasoline and never refuel a hot or
running engine. Take a break if you must smoke or let the engine cool down. If fuel is spilled, wipe it up immediately. Before
starting the engine, move at least 25 feet away from the fueling area to avoid igniting fuel vapors which are heavier than
air and may linger for some time.
Gasoline Storage Practices*
This information has been extracted from various internet resources
including Standard/Chevron Petroleum and from my own personal experience. The recommendations are of a general nature, followed
by recommendations and comments for some specific uses or situations.
For general storage there are four precautions that will delay
the deterioration of gasoline:
-Fill containers about 95% full.
-Cap containers tightly.
-Store containers out of direct sunlight in a location where
the temperature stays below 80F most of the time. I have found that gasoline stored over the winter here in Alaska tends to
be more stable because our average temperature is much below 80F.
-Use a gasoline stabilizer like Sta-Bil or Pri-G
The first two actions reduce the evaporation of gasoline during
storage and reduce the exposure of gasoline to air and water vapor. The 5% air space allows room for the liquid gasoline to
expand if its temperature rises. Storage temperature affects storage life
I prefer to put a fuel stabilizer additive like Sta-Bil (be
sure to read the directions on the container) to the gasoline regardless of how long I plan on storing it. Fuel stabilizer
additives are available at auto supply stores, Walmart, some service stations and convenience stores. Follow the label directions.
The best mixing is achieved when the stabilizer is added to the container before it is filled with gasoline. The stabilizer
will work only if it is added to fresh gasoline; it can’t fix gasoline that has started to deteriorate. Federally mandated
reformulation of gasolines to increase the oxygen content produces a mix that will survive storage as well or better than
conventional gasoline. Adding oil to gasoline doesn’t change its stability. Gasoline-oil mixtures for two-stroke-cycle
engines will survive storage as well as gasoline itself.
The volatility of gasoline is tailored for the range of temperatures
expected in the locality where it is sold. Engines fueled with "summer gasoline" may be more difficult to start in cold weather.
Gasoline that is tailored for colder climes has additional benzine added and other chemicals to increase its ability to vaporize
and burn more cleanly in internal combustion engines.
Store gasoline only in containers intended for the purpose.
A 55-gallon metal drum is the only container approved by the Uniform Fire Code for the storage of more than five gallons of
gasoline. Be careful to not store a container of gasoline near an ignition source such as an appliance pilot light. This is
important, do not store gasoline in a garage near gas fueled heaters or water heaters. Vehicles that may sit for a period
of time like boats or motor-homes need special consideration to prevent driveability problems (hesitation, lack of power)
which may be encountered after storage. The probable cause is gum deposits in the carburetor, on the injectors, or on the
fuel filter/screen. Treating the gasoline in the vehicle’s tank with a deposit-control additive may remove the problem
deposits. Deposit-control additive concentrates are available at service stations and auto supply stores. Techron Concentrate
is Chevron's most effective general purpose deposit-control additive. Follow the label instructions. Follow the label directions.
If driveability doesn’t improve by the time the treated fuel has been used, check the fuel filter and screen (if any)
in the fuel tank for plugging.
Boat fuel tanks are more likely to be contaminated with water
for obvious reasons. Water removal is particularly important for boats used in salt water and for boats fueled with gasoline
oxygenated with ethyl alcohol. Salt water corrodes some metals. So does the alcohol-water layer that separates if gasoline
containing ethyl alcohol is contaminated with more than one percent water. Formulation changes that have occurred in the past
few years - the addition of oxygenates and the reduction in benzene and other aromatics - have made gasolines more subject
to microbial growth. Even if no water is detected, add a biocide to the gasoline in the fuel tank. Follow the label directions.
The best mixing is achieved if the biocide is added to the tank before it is filled with gasoline. Biocide additives are available
at marinas and boat supply stores.
Small-Engine Equipment - This applies to outboard motors, jet
skis, snowmobiles, and lawn-and-garden equipment. Many manufacturers recommend that their equipment not be stored with gasoline
in the fuel tank. The tank should be emptied and the equipment run until the fuel line and carburetor also are empty. Both
recommendations are intended to protect essential fuel system parts from gum deposits. I have a generator that I like to keep
fuel in ready for use if the power shuts down. Every spring and fall I change the oil and run the generator for an hour or
so to get everything up to operating temperature and use it with a load (this is important to generators). Once yearly I also
change the spark plug, keeping the old one and cleaning it for rotation in next time until they are best thrown out. After
checking everything out I refuel it with gasoline that has been treated with Sta-Bil and set it aside for later use. I have
not had difficulty when keeping to this procedure. I use the same procedure with my snowblower, lawnmower, weed eater and
chainsaw. I run each at least twice a year even if they are not needed, just to keep my confidence in starting them and in
their running properly.
Equipment with a two-stroke-cycle engine requires fuel that
is a mixture of gasoline and oil. While this mixture is as stable as gasoline, I recommended that you not prepare more than
you plan to use over a 4-5 month period. I treat all my stored fuel regardless of projected use with Sta-Bil or another gasoline
preservative then use it within two years of treatment. Remember the gasoline-oil mixture should not ever be added to the
fuel tank of a gasoline-fueled motor, always mix it in your storage containers unless unable to do so (in which case add the
Sta-Bil first then fill the tank up to 95%).