Do Taking Phone Calls Really Cause Explosions in a Gas House? (Can You Take Calls in a Filling Station)

Could we do with a little story here?

“A certain college student was pumping gas into his sports utility vehicle near New Paltz, New York, recently and a call came in, he flipped open his cellphone to take the call and suddenly found himself surrounded by flames”.

His narration

“I saw this nig ball of fire, new Palts fire chief Patrick Knoch said. A worker triggered the emergency fire suspension system which put off the fire, and I received only minor burns and my cellphone was charred by the flame.

According to firefighters conclusions, My phone Ignited the fire by igniting vapours coming from the cars fuel tank as it was being filled.

At this point I concluded that “cellphones can ignite gas fumes coming from the pump and cause a disaster”.

Now the bigger question emerges

But are the nations 158 million or more cellphone users at risk if they do not hangup while they fill up their gas tanks?

Several signs at gas stations warns about the usage of cellphones. Experts and scientists have spoken that cellphones can cause fires at the gas pump.

What is the cause of these explosions as caused by cellphones in gas stations.

Let’s check if static electricity is the cause

Well enough, experts believe it is the static electricity and not the cellphone that caused the explosions. Static fires at pumps are as well considered rare events, but they do happen afterall.

The petroleum equipment institute reports on its website that it has counted 158 reports to date of gas pump fires attributed to static electricity.

First instance

Static electricity ignited a gas station fire captured by security cameras in San Antonio, Texas in November 2002.

The customer pumping gas was severly injured but survived. Static is also suspected in a 1996 fireball at a Tulsa, Okla., gas pump that killed a 33-year old woman.

Another instance

Steve Fowler, an electrical engineer from Fowler associates, says cell phone signals are far too weak to ignite even explosive gasoline fumes. He and Jim Farr, a fire Marshall from Gaston County, N.C., study static fire and say your body can build up a static charge in different ways, such as scuff your feet on the carpet, you can get upto 35,000 volts said Fowler.

“In a car situation we have seen as high as 60,000 volts”

That voltage is enough to catch gas fumes on fire, Fowler said. As for a cell phone or cellphone battery sparking a fire, Fowler and Farr said;

“It is theoretically possible but not probable”

Another instance

With the help of professional firefighters from the Bergen County, N,J., fire academy, the question was put to test….

“A firefighter in full protective gear stood next to a bucket full of gas holding in his hand a cellphone. When the cellphone rang, the spectators braced back to intercept a spark, but nothing happened. GMA tried a different cellphone and stirred the gas to create more fumes but still there was no fire outbreak upon taking another call.

Basically, no one who GMA talked to about cellphone starting up a fire in a gas station said it was possible but Koch still believed it is possible.

Hear his arguement

“I believe that it can happen, and it probably could happen again, “Koch said”. At first I really did not believe it but now after seeing what happened the other day, I truly believe a cellphone can ignite the gas fumes from a gas pump.

Although many gas stations have warnings posted to turn off cellphones but the cellphone industry said its because gas stations bought into the myth and slapped up the stickers without looking at the facts. The industry cities two studies that concluded there is virtually no evidence that cell phones are a hazard around gasoline.

Since we have known that cellphones do not ignite fire outbreak in gasoline stations rather static electricity, let’s look at the tips to avoid static electricity.

  1. Do not get back in your car untill you are finished with pumping gas.
  2. When you get out of your car to pump gas, get rid of any static charge before you reach for the pump. That could be as simple as tapping metal top of your car with your bare hand.
  3. Experts say if a fire does start, never take the gas nozzle out of your car. That is the surest way to turn a bad situation into a tragedy. Everyone who has been hurt, injured, or has been killed, has pulled that nozzle out.
  4. Never fill portable containers in or on a vehicle. Instead, put them on the ground. Like a person, a container can also become statically charged. If the earth’s not there to absorb the voltage, the can itself may have to spark.

Wrap up

Now that you have known what causes gasoline explosion, I think you wouldn’t have to commit any flaw that will cost your life without knowing what really caused it.

Phones do not cause explosions but static electricity or current do cause gas explosions take note.

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