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Static Electricity: Danger at the Pump

Pumping gas is a simple task done many times for drivers, but throw in a little spark and fire officials say it can quickly cause the ignition to flame.
FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. - Pumping gas is a simple task done many times for drivers, but throw in a little spark and fire officials say it can quickly cause the ignition to flame.

Deputy Bruch Bouch with the Maryland State Fire Marshal says, "That little bit of build up of static charge can take a very simple mundane trip to the gas station and turn it into a serious trip to the burn center."

You've probably felt static electricity before when exiting your vehicle at the gas station. While rare, Deputy Bouch says that static can cause a fire when dispensing gas.

The Maryland State Fire Marshal says it's especially during the winter months we should be watchful for those sparks.

"It tends to occur more often in the winter time because of the dry atmosphere," says Deputy Bouch. "We lose a lot of the humidity that will contain any type of electrostatic spark."

So how can we avoid a potentially deadly disaster at the pump? Deputy Bouch says to always turn-off the car's engine when refueling.

He also says to touch the car before touching the gas nozzle.

"As you get out, touch the car," he says. "You'll discharge any static electricity build up then touch the nozzle."

The Deputy also says to remain next to your car the entire time.

"Once I get out of the car, and I go to pump gas, I don't get back in the car," says Boonsboro resident Kathy Kalina. "I stay outside."

If a fire occurs, fire officials say do not remove the nozzle. They say instead to leave the area, warn others and call for help.
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