Gasoline and other Flammable Liquids

Gasoline is the most common flammable liquid found in the home. Used carelessly or improperly, it is the main cause of burn injuries among teenage boys. Gasoline is highly volatile due to its low flash point and easily vaporizes when exposed to air. Because it is heavier than air, it can seek out ignition sources such as a pilot light from a water heater, an electrical spark from a hand tool, or a lit cigarette dropped on the ground.

Use care when filling lawn mowers, chain saws and other power tools with gasoline. Don't refill a power tool with the engine running or while the manifold is hot. Use a funnel to pour the gas to avoid overfilling and spilling. If gasoline is spilled, allow it to vaporize completely. This will maintain a dry surface and reduce the chance of ignition. Never fill gasoline in a confined space, indoors or in a closed garage. Never smoke around gasoline or other flammable liquids. Do not use it as a cleaning solvent or to remove grease and oil from automotive parts, your hands or clothing. Many people are seriously burned each year from these mistakes. Do not pour gasoline or other flammable liquids down the sink or into a storm drain. This creates an explosion potential.

Do not store gasoline in the house. It should be kept in a detached garage or in an outside storage area. Be absolutely sure it is clear from any ignition source such as a water heater, washer or dryer. Do not put gasoline in a cup, glass jug or old bleach bottle. It should be stored in an approved container, which is of heavy duty construction, has a spring-loaded, self-closing handle and is equipped with a safety-relief plug. The Fire Code allows a maximum of 10 gallons of flammable liquid to be stored on residential property and the liquid must be stored outside. Storage of flammable liquids above these amounts on any property, commercial or residential, requires a permit from the Fire Department Division of Fire Prevention. Don't store gasoline in the trunk or back of the car. If you need to carry fuel, make sure the cap is tightly closed, and fill the can only three-fourths full, leaving an air space for vapor expansion.

Kerosene Kerosene heaters are commonly used in many homes and businesses during colder months of the year to provide warmth. Kerosene is not as flammable as gasoline but just as dangerous. Fill a kerosene heater outdoors using a fill spout. Never fill a heating unit while hot and be sure the area is ventilated. Kerosene should be stored away from the home and any heat or ignition sources. It should be stored in an approved container like gasoline.

Other flammable liquids and gases. For health and safety reasons, paint should be used in a ventilated area. It should be stored in a secured can when not being used. Spray paint and paint solvents such as lacquer thinner, and paint brush cleaner are highly flammable and should be stored away from heat or ignition sources. Other cleaners such as naptha and toluene can be ignited by static electricity from one's clothing. These products should be stored in secured containers away from the home in a detached storage area. You may have a good reason to have benzine in the house - as a dry cleaning fluid or as a fluid for your cigarette lighter. Even then, you should keep the smallest quantity possible on hand...in a tightly stoppered container...stored securely away in a cool place.

Benzene (with an "e"), otherwise known as benzol, is a very serious fire and health hazard (a known carcinogen). Do not use or store it under any circumstances.

Denatured alcohol may be required for some uses in the home, perhaps as a rubbing solution. While it is not quite as dangerous as some of the others, it is nonetheless highly flammable and should be used and stored with as much caution as any other flammable liquid.

Many pesticides are not only poisonous, but are highly flammable. When using pesticides, be sure you are away from any heat or ignition source. Always keep pesticides in their original containers.

Rags which have been used to wipe or clean petroleum products may spontaneously ignite. Cleaning rags soaked in oil, furniture polish, turpentine, or paint should be kept in a tightly-sealed metal container or thrown away immediately after use.     

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