Most of us learn about fuel safety at an early age – perhaps from watching a parent fuel up a tractor, lawn mower, or watercraft when we were children, or certainly as a part of driver training in our teens. Many fleet drivers get “refresher” courses as part of regular safety training on the job. But it never hurts to go through the basics as equipment, laws, and guidelines do change over time.
In this article we cover the basic safety rules, as well as guidelines for handling emergencies, and tips for keeping your vehicle’s fuel system in tip-top shape.
Choose the Right Fuel
Begin with what you put in your tank and when you do it:
Pump Fuel Safely
A widely posted YouTube video2 outlines the basics of safe pumping, most of which are included in the following list:
A few other reminders:
If fuel splashes on clothing, remove the fuel at once. If it spills on the pavement, make sure it evaporates fully before leaving. Stations typically keep absorbent substances in a spill kit just for this purpose, so ask for help if you don’t have such a kit on board.
Never use fuel for other purposes – for example, as a cleaning agent. And never mix gasoline with kerosene or diesel4.
Store Fuel Properly
Storing gasoline and diesel anywhere other than at a regulated fuel dispensing location is inherently dangerous, and should only be done when absolutely necessary. In those rare instances, follow these tips for safe storage:
Respond to Fuel Emergencies the Right Way
It’s the stuff action movies are made of: a dramatic chase scene unfolds, and pretty soon there’s a confrontation at a fueling station. A vehicle crashes into a fuel tank or gunfire erupts and a tank explodes into a fireball with flames shooting skyward.
Fortunately, scenes like this in real life are rare. But fires do occasionally happen, and keeping your “mental muscle memory” fine-tuned with the guidelines on how to respond is always a good idea.
Fires at a pumping station are a rarity, but avoiding risky situations is key to making sure you’re not a victim:
The biggest safety rule is this: If a fire occurs while the nozzle is actively pumping into your vehicle, DO NOT remove the nozzle. Back away and hit the emergency shutoff button or call for help from the attendant.5
Running Out of Fuel
The other fuel-related emergency you’re more likely to face is running out of fuel. And yes, it’s an emergency because your vehicle will stall and shut down. This means that your power steering and braking will immediately become much more difficult to handle with fuel to the power systems missing. For modern-day drivers, this can come as a sudden surprise. Vehicle maintenance experts offer tips like these on what to do6:
Many fleet fuel card plans include a 24/7 roadside assistance benefit. If your does not have such a plan, some vehicle insurance plans have a similar service.
Once you are fueled up, you should prime the fuel pump before getting back on the road. To do this, turn the key to the “on” position without applying the gas pedal and then immediately turn it back off. Do this a few times before applying the gas. This will help clear any air that may have entered the fuel lines while the tank was empty. Then, once you are back on the road, take your vehicle in for an inspection as soon as possible to make sure nothing has been damaged. According to mechanics, a damaged fuel pump or fuel injector may function just fine at first following such an incident, only to malfunction later and cause problems with stalls or difficulty starting.
1 “Protection From Bad Fuel: Commitment to Quality,” Casey’s General Stores, Inc. https://www.caseys.com/about-us/quality-fuels, accessed August 5, 2020.
2 “Dos and Don’ts at the Gas Pump,” posted by a number of sources. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zyjt4qBh4JI, 2013-2019. Accessed July 29, 2020.
3”Practice Caution When Handing Fuel,” National Safety Council, 22 April 2018. https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/16907-practice-caution-when-handling-fuel. Accessed August 5, 2020.
4”Gasoline Safety & Storage,” Exxon Mobil, https://www.exxon.com/en/gasoline-safety-storage. Accessed August 3, 2020
5”Dos and Don’ts at the Gas Pump.”
6”When You Run Out of Gas,” Firestone Complete Auto Care blog, https://blog.firestonecompleteautocare.com/driving/what-happens-when-you-run-out-of-gas/.
Not Sure Where to Begin?
Let one of our experienced consultants contact you to discuss your specific situation and business needs. We’ll recommend the best fuel card program for your fleet.
Call Us: 1-800-633-3271 or select one of the brands below: