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Shriners Hospital for Children - Be Burn Aware
Stop Gas Fires
Gasoline is the major fuel source used to power cars, lawnmowers, boats, motorcycles, snow blowers, some tractors, and some light planes. It is so much a part of our everyday living that we forget how dangerous it can be if not properly handled or stored. The number one hazard of gasoline is fire or explosion. Liquid gasoline does not burn, but gasoline vapors do. Since the vapors are heavier than air, they move along close to the ground and can collect in low areas. Any ignition source (cigarette, match, hot exhaust pipe or any spark) can ignite gasoline vapors. When gasoline vapors ignite, one gallon of gasoline can explode with the same force as 14 sticks of dynamite.
Gasoline can also cause adverse health effects. Contact with the skin causes the skin to dry and crack. Prolonged breathing of gasoline vapors can cause dizziness, nausea, or vomiting. Siphoning gasoline by mouth may cause you to swallow gasoline, which can cause vomiting. Gasoline may then enter your lungs causing chemical pneumonia. Chemical pneumonia can be fatal. Gasoline contains a toxic chemical called Benzene. Benzene is a known carcinogen; therefore avoid breathing gasoline vapors or taking gasoline into your mouth.
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.