Jim, a longtime friend and colleague, told me recently he was amazed — and alarmed — by something he had seen when he pulled into a gas station to fill up, and he wasn't talking about the price of gasoline.
“This guy was putting gas in (his vehicle) while he was smoking,” Jim said. “I couldn't believe it. Smoking a cigarette right there at the gas pump. That's just plain stupid.”
While the obvious thought for most people might be that this is a no-brainer, you'll hear arguments on both sides of the issue.
There are those who say it takes an open flame to ignite gasoline.
Those on the other side say that a lighted cigarette is the same as a flame.
Some say gasoline is a liquid and generally will not burn. They may even tell you they've extinguished a cigarette by tossing it into a container filled with gas.
Their opposites counter with the explosiveness of the fumes off the gasoline.
The signs that read “FLAMMABLE” and “NO SMOKING” are good enough for most people. That means the potential for dangerous results exists and therefore ... don't do it.
You also may see a small sign that says there is a city code prohibiting smoking near gas pumps. Local fire departments can give you real examples of what has happened in addition to what could happen. The firefighters have seen it.
In a related area, “Isn't there something around gas pumps about not using cellphones or getting in and out of your car while pumping gas?” a reader asked in an email a while back.
The answer is “yes.”
Both the cellphone and getting in and out of your car have to do with static electricity, which can produce a spark capable of igniting fumes while you are dispensing gasoline.
Yes, it can happen.
Just recently I read where a man was filling his vehicle while his small daughter sat buckled in the back seat. He opened the back door, dialed a number on his phone, then watched in horror as static electricity caused gas fumes at the tank to ignite and fill the inside of his vehicle with flames.
By the way ...
There is a happy ending to that story.
It just so happened that an off-duty fireman was nearby and saved the child and her father, who suffered some burns.
But he survived.
Enjoy your week and drive safely.
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