By Shell on Feb. 15, 2021
Pulling in to refuel and refresh our vehicles is something we do so often, typically without drama, it’s easy to forget it comes with potential threats to our safety – and that of fellow customers. So how do you make sure you’re staying safe at the servo? Here are the key rules to follow.
As you refill your vehicle with petrol, you’ll smell and sometimes even see petrol vapour escaping from the fuel-filler area. This vapour is flammable and potentially combustible. For this reason, you must banish all potential sources of ignition from the environment and a running engine fits that description. Naked flames and smoking are others, so extinguish any gas pilot lights before you get to the pump, and never smoke (that includes e-cigarettes, too).
Stay at the pump
Electrostatic discharge is another potential ignition source of fuel vapour. Getting in and out of your car while refuelling could potentially cause static electricity to build up and then discharge when you touch the metal pump handle again – or distract you from the tank overfilling and spilling, another potential fire risk – so always keep your hand on the pump until you’ve finished the job.
Turn off your device
Mobile phones, CB radios, pagers and other electrical devices are yet another potential ignition source for fuel vapours. They can also be a distraction, so turn all devices off while you’re at the pump. Even better, keep them in the car.
Keep kids away
Even before the dangers are considered, you must be over 16 years of age to legally refuel a car. You should never handball the job to young children.
Take extra care filling jerry cans
Petrol vapours can also ignite from electrostatic discharge when dispensed into an unearthed container. For this reason, you should always place a jerry can or other container directly on the ground before filling and keep the nozzle in contact with the container – never fill it while it is still in a vehicle or trailer. You should also ensure your container is up to scratch – it must either be metal or AS2906 approved plastic and be no more than 25 litres in capacity. Here are more jerry can safety tips.
Keep the air hoses for your car
While a servo’s tyre check/inflation hoses can technically be used to inflate any tyre with a Schrader-type valve – such as those fitted to some bicycles and wheelbarrows – you should stick to just using them for those on your car. Small-volume tyres can be overinflated and even explode if these hoses are operated carelessly. If an exploding wheel isn’t securely affixed to its relevant vehicle, it can potentially even become a missile, capable of causing serious injury. If you need to inflate bike or wheelbarrow tyres, just buy the right tool for the job – a hand or floor pump.