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Static Electricity at the Gas Pump

You may have seen one of the many email warnings or TV spots recently concerning static discharge at the gas pumps.

The Petroleum Equipment Institute (PIE) has not issued any of these emails and they contain some erroneous statements.

None-the-less it is a serious situation that requires your attention. The following is the official information provided by PEI. For more complete information or to contact PEI directly, please refer to their site

The site is updated frequently to deal with safety issues and the erroneous information circulating through emails.


1.Turn off your vehicle's engine while refueling

If you have any ancillary sources of ignition such as a heater in a camper or trailer, pilot lights or cooking units, they should also be turned off during the refueling process

2. Don't Smoke while refueling

This includes lighting matches or lighters as well as actually smoking.

3. Never re-enter your vehicle while refueling

Although it seems like you are out in the cold for a long time, in reality the average fill-up only takes two minutes. Staying outside (instead of re-entering your vehicle) will minimize the build-up of static electricity and problems that may be associated with it.

If it is essential that you re-enter your vehicle during re-fueling, there are safety measures you should take before touching the nozzle at the fill point.

When you get out of the car always touch a metal part of the vehicle with your bare hand before doing anything else. This could be the door handle or any other metal surface.

Although static related incidents are not common, the potential is there and can easily be avoided. The highest frequency of occurrences seems to be during cold and dry climates, but that is not to say it cannot happen at other times.

If a static caused fire does occur while you are re-fueling, do not attempt to remove the nozzle from the fill pipe. Leave the nozzle in place, back away from the vehicle and notify the attendant immediately.

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