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CPSC Warns Consumers On Gasoline Storage

Release Date: October 06, 2011

Gasoline shortages and price increases may encourage some consumers to hoard fuel, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission reminds consumers that improper storage and misuse of gasoline can create serious household hazards.

Last year, an estimated 25,000 persons sought hospital emergency room treatment for injuries associated with liquid fuels, including gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluid, and charcoal starter. More than 13,500 of these injuries were related to gasoline. 

Fires and explosions are the chief hazards associated with improper use of gasoline. More than half of those injured in gasoline-related accidents last year suffered burns.

Some families keep a small amount of gasoline around the house for power lawn mowers. But often gasoline is misused for cleaning clothing or paint brushes, exterminating insects, priming carburators, and starting or feeding fires.

Everyone knows that gasoline is highly flammable, but many people do not realize the danger of gasoline vapors. Gasoline vapors are so extremely flammable that if a storage can is left open in a closed garage, a cigarette lit nearby could cause an explosion. Even a spark from an auto engine can ignite gasoline vapors.

The second major hazard associated with gasoline is accidental ingestion, most frequently by children. About 5,100 persons required hospital emergency room care last year for gasoline poisoning and half of these were under five years old.

Thousands of children each year also swallow kerosene, other liquid fuels, and furniture polishes containing petroleum distillates. Although a small amount in the stomach ordinarily does not produce serious injury, some children have died from as little as a teaspoonful of fuel or polish.

During the act of swallowing these substances, the child may gag and draw the liquid into the lungs producing a severe or deadly inflammation. For this reason, if gasoline or another petroleum distillate product is swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Call a physician or seek other medical help immediately.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission makes the following recommendations to consumers regarding the storage and use of gasoline:

- If it is absolutely necessary to keep a small amount of gasoline on hand, store it in a heavy metal safety container with a tightly closed lid. Never store gasoline or other liquid fuel in glass or plastic bottles and, in particular, never use empty soft drink bottles which could be attractive to young children.

- Place the container in a well ventilated, cool area. Never keep gasoline or other fuel inside the house or in the basement.

- Never store gasoline near open flames, pilot lights, stoves, heaters, electric mowers, or any other sources of ignition.

- Never use gasoline near an open flame. Never smoke near gasoline.

- Never carry gasoline in the trunk of the car. Escaping vapors can easily ignite.

- Keep gasoline, kerosene, other fuels, and polishes out of the reach of children. Never permit children to play with matches or fuels.

- Avoid repeated or prolonged contact of skin with gasoline and avoid breathing fuel vapors.

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About the U.S. CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

Federal law prohibits any person from selling products subject to a Commission ordered recall or a voluntary recall undertaken in consultation with the CPSC.

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