Is It Really That Dangerous to Smoke at a Gas Station?

You could potentially ignite a catastrophic fire by smoking at a gas station—myth or reality? It turns out the No Smoking signs you see at a gas pump are there for a good reason. The real danger of smoking at a gas station isn’t oil spills or anything else that you can see, but a hazard entirely invisible to the human eye: gasoline vapors. 

Using a FLIR Optical Gas Imaging camera, we can see the full picture of what’s happening when you pump gas:

Gasoline vapor, visualized as a black cloud in the video, is highly flammable and ready to combust at a moment’s notice. Though many gas stations implement measures to reduce the amount of vapors allowed to escape when you’re pumping gas, the amount in the air is never zero. Flammable vapors are also one of the reasons it’s a good idea to turn your engine off when you’re pumping gas, as an idling car increases the vapors in the air. 

When it comes to gas stations, practice safe refueling and keep the cigarettes, lighters, and all other potential ignition sources away from the gas pump. 

Learn more about FLIR Optical Gas Imaging solutions:

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