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Gasoline has only one function: to fuel an engine. Any other use of gasoline is dangerous and may result in serious burns. Thousands of people are injured each year when they misuse gasoline and other flammable liquids.One high-risk situation occurs when a flammable liquid is used within the home, especially in the basement. The pilot light or flame in a gas water heater or other appliance can easily ignite invisible flammable vapors. Children under age three have suffered more than half of the burns associated with such fires.To understand why gasoline is so dangerous, look at the flash point of various flammable/combustible liquids. The flash point is the temperature at which the substance produces a vapor that can ignite.

Substance Flash Point Intended Use
Gasoline -45 degrees F. Fueling an engine ONLY
Acetone 0 degrees F. Nail polish remover, solvent
Turpentine 95 degrees F. Paint thinner, brush cleaner
Mineral spirits 104 degrees F. Paint thinner, brush cleaner
Charcoal lighter 160 degrees F. Starter fluid for grills
Some mineral-oil 160 degrees F. Multi-purpose remover/solvent products

NOTE: The lower the flash point, the greater the risk of vapors being produced, which increases the risk the flammable substance will ignite.

  • Gas water heaters should be installed so that the pilot light/flame is at least 18 inches above the floor.
  • Use only the safest product available for the intended job — NOT gasoline.

Remember: Gasoline has only one purpose: to fuel an engine.

Additional precautions

When filling a gasoline container, leave about two inches of space at the top of the can for vapor expansion. Remember, gasoline may be cold when it comes from a service station fuel tank, and it may expand considerably as it warms up. This could result in pressure build-up and spillage.

  • Always fuel power mowers and other equipment outside where there is adequate ventilation to disperse the vapors. Use a funnel to prevent spilling or splashing.
  • Fuel engines only when they are cool. The heat of the engine can ignite the gasoline vapors. When you run out of fuel, let the engine cool before refilling. Cool it before you fuel it.
  • When fueling a boat, allow gasoline vapors to dissipate before starting the engine. Accumulated vapors in low places (such as below the deck of a boat) have caused many explosions and fires when the boat engines were started.

Storing gasoline

If you must store gasoline, follow these precautions:

  • Store gasoline and other flammable liquids only in metal containers, preferably safety cans.
  • Keep the container tightly sealed.
  • Store in a well-ventilated area, away from any source of ignition.
  • Lock up the container to prevent access by children.
  • Do not store gasoline in your basement.
  • Store only a minimal amount of gasoline.

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