Cell Phone Use While Re-Fueling Can Lead to Explosions

Posted on Feb 05, 2013

After three separate incidents, the Shell Oil Company recently issued a warning that mobile phones can ignite fumes during fueling.  Apparently some cell phone when switched on or when ringing release enough energy to provide a spark for ignition. Therefore, people should not use cell phones while performing any activities that may involve the release of combustible vapors.  Cell phones should not be used in propylene oxide handling and storage areas, gas and diesel refueling areas.

Here is a description of the three incidents.  In the first case, the cell phone was placed on the car's trunk and then rang while the owner was refueling.  A fire ensued that destroyed the car and the gas pump.  In the second, a person sustained severe burns to her face when she answered a call while refueling.  In the third, an individual suffered burns to the thigh and groin when the cell phone located in a pocket rang while they were refueling.

The same problem happens when a person goes back into the car while refueling.  This action can cause static electricity to form.  When the person goes outside again to put the gas hose back, a spark can ignite fumes. In one study of 150 fires, the circumstances were eerily the same.  Almost all involved women. (Men apparently do not nornally go back into the car while refueling.)  Almost all involved someone with rubber soled shoes getting out of the car after the fueling had stopped.  In these situations fire damaged the vehicle, the station, and often the customer.  The lesson to be learned -- stay outside of your car, even in the cold, when refueling the car.

Here are four basic rules for safe refueling:

One - Turn off the engine.

Two - Don't smoke

Three - Don't use your cell phone

Four - Don't re-enter your car while refueling.

Folllow these rules and you can stay safe!



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