Fuel station accidents are not very common around the world, however, if you’re not being careful, filling fuel into a car can become a disaster. Most of the car owners take the fuel filling exercise as a common regular task to many but not being careful while doing so can be uneventful. There have been many instances in the past were using a mobile phone while filling the fuel has caused dramatic fires that sometimes engulfed the whole vehicles. Well, people filling fuel in cars should also worry about static electricity. How? Well, watch this video before you can understand the whole scenario.
The video is not from India but it can happen anywhere in the world. The CCTV footage in the video shows a driver in a pick-up truck parking his vehicle next to a fuel pump and waits for the attendant to arrive. He then opens the door and starts talking to the attendant while he starts to fill the fuel in the car. The driver can be seen resting his foot on the floorboard of the car while conversing and only after a few seconds, a fire erupts from the fuel cap and spreads all over. The attendant leaves the hose and runs away from the fire while the fires gust inside the vehicle through the open door.
The driver shows his presence of mind and moves to the co-driver side and gets out of the vehicle quickly. The fire attendant can be seen using a fire extinguisher on the fire and brings the situation under control.
Static electricity is caused by friction that causes an imbalance between the positive and negative charges. When the imbalanced surfaces come in contact, they discharge static electricity that causes a spark. You must have felt the static electricity several times, especially during the winter when the air is dry and the phenomena are more prominent.
Static electricity can also develop in cars because of the friction between the tyres and the road. In rare occasions, the static electricity can cause sparks near the fuel filling cap that can cause a fire. The body also gets static charged when the car moves and if the person hangs out of the vehicle as this driver did with his legs out and not touching the ground, the static electricity can flow can cause a spark.
This is why it is important to touch the ground after getting out of the car and make the body neutral again. This phenomenon is quite obvious in heavy vehicles like trucks and buses which is why many heavy vehicles have a loose metal string attached to the lower body that touches the road and discharges the electricity.
How to avoid this?
Always turn off the car and get out of the vehicle and stand away from it. Touch a metal object to make sure that your body is neutral again. Also, never try to get inside the vehicle while the fuel hose is still attached to the vehicle. Similar precautions should be taken while filling the fuel in bikes and fuel containers. Even though you’re more likely to get struck by lightning rather than seeing fire due to static electricity at a fuel pump, such things only have to happen once. Always take precautions while filling fuel to avoid such incidents.