Question & Answer: Will Gasoline in my Plastic Gas Can Explode?
Answer: Gasoline, sitting undisturbed, closed and in a plastic gasoline container, should not explode, combust or catch fire unless the vapors are introduced to a heat source such as an open fire. However, if the vapors in a gasoline container are introduced to heat source such as an open flame or fire and the gas can was defectively designed or manufactured by failing to incorporate the use of a flame arrestor, the gas can may explode causing serious loss of life, limb, or property.
The topic of “exploding gas cans” has been hotly debated during the past ten years. Over the past decade, there has been a flurry of litigation related to plastic gasoline containers exploding. The majority of gas can litigation over the past decade has stemmed from the lack of flame arrestors in gasoline containers. A flame arrester is a small screen often installed in containers holding flammable liquids to stop fuel combustion by extinguishing the flame before it can cause combustion. Flame arrestors are also used in a variety of industrial applications as well. Flame arrestor technology has been around for over one-hundred (100) years and has been utilized by the coal industry to prevent explosions when methane is released in coal mines.
Per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, gasoline containers with flame arrestors are required in industrial work-sites. Therefore, it has been surprising to many to hear that some gasoline container manufacturers are not, per OSHA regulations, allowed to use their own gasoline cans in their own plants. And, even though the government has told some manufacturers that their own gas cans are unsafe to use in their factories and plants, these same manufacturers have continued to sell millions of these unsafe gasoline containers to the general public.
National media, lawsuits, and other outlets have consistently referred to exploding gas cans and the public has responded with concern, and sometimes fear. If you are concerned about the safety of your gasoline container or are considering purchasing a gas can, there are a few safety features to look for in a gas can. Try to find a gasoline container that includes a flame arrestor, a robust child proofing feature, a proven spill proofing system, and is clearly marked as a red gasoline container. Gasoline is a combustible liquid that can seriously injure or kill if it combusts.