Washington, D.C. -- During Fire Prevention Week (October 8-14) the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers about fire hazards associated with fuel containers, liquid fuel and fuel vapors.
Thousands of people are treated at emergency departments each year for injuries related to liquid fuels—some sustained during cool weather activities such as lighting a backyard fire pit, bonfires, burning leaves or trash, fall camping trips and all-terrain vehicle rides.
When poured from a container over an exposed flame or other ignition source, liquid fuels—like gasoline, kerosene, charcoal lighter fluid, ethanol or bioethanol, fuels for small engines, liquid fireplace fuels, or butane for cigarette lighters—can cause violent flash fires, known as flame jetting, which can burn those nearby.
Even the invisible vapors from liquid fuels can ignite and flash back into the container, causing a severe explosion and potentially fatal or harmful burn injuries.
Here are some fire safety tips from CPSC:
- Fire and Fuel Don’t Mix—Never use gasoline with fires or fire pits. To start or re-light a fire, only use appropriate fire starters. Never add liquid fuel after trying to start a fire—even if you don’t see a visible flame.
- Keep Water Nearby—In any conditions, even controlled fires can become dangerous in seconds. Before starting a fire, plan to have a garden hose, water container, or fire extinguisher on-hand, and pay attention to wildfire risk and wind forecasts before lighting a fire.
- Store Safely—Fuel containers are useful for portable generators, snowblowers, lawn mowers, all-terrain vehicles, and other equipment, but should not be stored near these devices, as they can throw sparks that cause liquids and vapors to ignite. Instead, store fuel containers in cool, well-ventilated areas outside the home, and always ensure the cap is securely in place after use.
- Carry With Caution—Transport and store liquid fuel only in appropriate, child-resistant containers specifically designed for this purpose; using any other type of container, like a jug or plastic bag, is extremely dangerous. Always place a fuel container on the ground when adding fuel, and ensure it is closed, upright, and stable when transported in a trunk or truck bed. Once home, immediately remove the fuel container from the car, and place it in a safe, cool, well-ventilated area away from children.
- Arrestor is Better—When purchasing a new or used fuel container, make sure it is equipped with a flame arrestor. These simple devices provide an extinguishing barrier to ignited fuel vapors that protect against flame jetting and container rupturing. CPSC is making gas cans and other fuel containers safer by requiring flame mitigation devices. The new mandatory safety standard went into effect on July 12, 2023.
- Take Fire and Fuel Safety Seriously—Whether or not you realize it, flammable liquids and fuel containers are all around you, from the gas can in your garage to the nail polish remover in your bathroom cabinet. No matter how commonplace these items are, it is important to remain cautious and aware of the fire hazards they present so a sudden spark doesn’t take you by surprise. CPSC urges all adults to take fire safety seriously and teach kids to stay safe near fires, fuel containers, and gasoline-powered vehicles.
To learn more about fire and fuel container safety, visit CPSC’s Fuel Container, Gasoline and Other Liquid Fuel Safety Education Center.
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.
For lifesaving information: