We’ve all seen the warning signs at filling stations. But how many of us actually pay attention to them? If you’ve ever wondered about the urban legend that has us believing you can literally start a fire by using your cell phone at a gas station, keep reading for some interesting revelations.
Truth be told, there have been no documented cases of fires that have started at a filling station as a result of cell phone usage (source: Petroleum Equipment Institute). Even more shocking are the results from a past Mythbusters experiment that tried and failed to start a gas fire while using a cellphone.
So where did this idea of cellphones being responsible for petrol station fire explosions come from? A possible explanation could be the notion that static electricity can ignite fires. With this logic, when you fill your tank with petrol, there’s a tendency not to spill a single drop on the body of your car. Yes petrol is expensive in this part of the world but beyond that, gas vapors linger around the pump nozzle, when inserted in your gas tank and can be ignited by static electricity. Once this occurs, the fire will travel in the direction of anywhere the petrol is. This could be inside the pumps, inside the car’s fuel tank or anywhere on the body of the car. And boom! You have your explosion.
The act of shuffling between the fuel pump and back to your car and back to the nozzle of the fuel pump again, is enough to create static electricty that can ignite said gasoline fumes.
Ok, so your cell phone may not exactly set off a fire at a petrol station but it’s still advisable to hold off from answering calls while at the fuel pump. Yes, filling up your tank is so mundane and between making sure the attendant isn’t cheating you and being aware of your surrounding, there really isn’t any need to be on your phone while you fill up at the petrol station.