Why would you store gasoline when you do not see any immediate need for it? Or a better question would be, “Why would you buy gasoline more than you need?”
The danger of storing gasoline in a household cannot be stressed enough. While we have become overly dependent on gasoline in many aspects in our daily routine, we cannot disregard safety measures when it comes to handling such hazardous chemical.
The succeeding discussion will enlighten you on preventive measures when storing gasoline as well as show you how to dispose of gasoline to avoid any untoward incidents. However, before we get into the “how to,” let me share with you some facts on the dangers I am talking about.
- A project sponsored by the American Society for Testing and Materials conducted by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute on the flammability hazard of gas cans found out conditions that can result in “flashback” explosion. The study further revealed that when gas vapor escapes from the can and a spark or flame is present, this can cause ignition and flashback which then results in an explosion. The study likewise stressed that it doesn’t take a full gas can for an explosion to occur.
- Gasoline has ignitable, reactive and combustible properties hence considered as hazardous material. Storage of such is highly regulated. But despite the regulation, the danger of storing even a little amount of gasoline is beyond debate. CNBC, in its published news, reported eleven (11) deaths in addition to 1,200 emergency room cases associated with explosions of gasoline cans since 1998.
Because the danger is ever present as well as the need for gasoline, we should be knowledgeable on how we can prevent accidents whenever storing and handling gasoline.
#1: Check for local and state regulations
Taking time to be educated on government standards on gasoline storage will do you good. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to know restrictions on gasoline storage. You do not only have the responsibility to protect yourself, your family and home but your community as well.
Most often restriction only allows up to 25 gallons. Gasoline must be in prescribed containers of which capacity of each container does not exceed five (5) gallons. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have specifications on container requirement. OSHA 1926.152(a)(1) states the following:
- All flammable liquids should be contained in no more than 5 gallons capacity can. Should there be a need to store more than 25 gallons, you should have a storage room for that purpose. Therefore it is safe to say that gasoline cans less than 5 gallons capacity satisfy the governmental requirement.
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- A flash arresting screen is a pre-requisite for a gasoline container to be approved by OSHA. It has an extremely important function in preventing combustion from taking place inside the can whenever there is fire. In simpler explanation, the screen stops fire even before it reaches the gas.
- Gasoline cans should not be difficult to seal. OSHA requires containers to be equipped with a spring-closing lid. The lid closes by itself upon release and thus it avoids users from forgetting to close it. At the same time, the lid should be secured enough so as not to release so much vapor. Moreover, the can should have a child-resistant cap.
- Apart from that, approval seals are important. When buying gasoline in cans, be sure to look for the Department of Transportation approval or any recognized testing laboratory.
#2: Ensure proper storage
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- Keep gasoline away from your house. Place it in your shed for instance. OSHA 1926.152(a) (1) specifies requirements for storing flammable liquids. It must be kept in areas where there is not much traffic. Never place it in stairways or areas where people come and go.
- Makes sure there is good ventilation in your storage area. There is definitely danger when gasoline is exposed to hot temperature. Keep it somewhere where room temperature is preserved, OSHA 1917.156(b) (2) (iv).
#3: Handle with extra care
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- A warning sign is helpful, “Flammable-Keep Away from Open Flames.”Containers must be tightly closed.
- Extra care must be observed during handling to avoid spills.
- Ensure distance from anything that can cause ignition. Safe distance would be 50 feet.
- Should you need to put gasoline into machines such as a lawnmower, allow it to cool before doing so.
- Never allow children to have access to gasoline.
- In the case of minor spillage, sawdust comes in handy in absorbing the spill. Paper and rags are also options.
- For larger spills, it is advisable to check with your local government unit to ensure safety.
HOW TO DISPOSE OF GASOLINE
Now that you have an idea on how to handle gasoline especially in your property, it is also equally important to discuss how to dispose of gasoline in case you have bad or excess gas at home. DO NOT dispose of gasoline just about anywhere. Should the idea of throwing gas on a street drain, ground, sewer and the like or maybe putting it together with your garbage, THINK AGAIN!
First of all, it will harm the environment. The danger of explosion and contamination is extremely probable. Secondly, doing such can get you into trouble with government authorities. You can be penalized for improper disposal of hazardous material apart from being criminally liable. It is a Federal offense!
Below are some of the ways to safely dispose of gasoline.
#1: Recycle old gas
You can bring it to a car shop or even boat yards. These people know how to put old gas to use. Others would mix it up with new gasoline and use it for lawnmowers. Just a reminder, do not use it for your car.
If you want to do it yourself, I will show you how.
+ Be sure to have the following:
- a plastic funnel
- extra container preferably glass bottle
- Paper towels for filtering.
+ Set aside old gas.
+ Make your filter by placing a sheet of paper towel folded to fit into the funnel.
+ Once your filter is ready, get your glass bottle and put the funnel into the bottle’s opening.
+ Gradually pour the old gasoline through the funnel.
+ Change paper towel when necessary.
Now that you have filtered the old gas, you are now ready to mix the filtered gas with fresh gas.
The ratio is four (4) parts new gasoline and one (1) part gasoline. The result is called reconditioned gasoline.
Check out UWBurning’s method of recycling old gas
If you are not confident in doing it by yourself, here are some other options:
#2: Ask professional advice from Fire Department
Pay your Fire Department a visit or maybe you can give them a call. They should be able to give you recommendations for best action to take.
#3: Check for HHW Facility
Check for Household Hazardous Waste Facility in your area which offers free services. Usually, they have landfills where you can bring hazardous waste and you can just drop them there. Of course, you will need to comply with packaging and labeling requirements.
There are also service providers you can find in the yellow pages. All you need to do is look for these businesses under Environmental and Ecological Services and Oils, Waste.
Danger relating to handling, storing and disposing of gasoline can be avoided. Take all precautionary measures to avoid loss of life and property. When it’s gone, you cannot just say, “I told you so.” You must realize the hazard of chemicals such as gasoline presents.
It is also good to emphasize that proper disposal of gasoline means recycling the gasoline. In this day and age when depletion of natural resources is also a pressing problem, properly disposing of your old gas lets you contribute to the betterment of our planet.
The discussion provided above should be an excellent reference. You might want to go over the discussion one more time. Should you have questions, feel free to comment and I’ll be glad to respond.