Gasoline: Safety and Storage Tips

Gasoline: Safety and Storage Tips

We depend on gasoline so often in our lives that we don’t stop to think about what we would do without it. We use it to fuel our cars, run our lawn mowers, and power up our boats, among other things. Its convenience goes unnoticed until a mishap occurs. 

Gasoline is a very flammable liquid that must be handled with care. It can even lead to potential health problems such as respiratory illnesses such as worsening asthma, difficulty breathing, and skin irritations. Using gasoline irresponsibly can lead to injuries, fires, or other disasters. Gasoline is highly volatile, which means that proper safety measures must always be taken when handling or storing it. 

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind to ensure that you and your home stay safe when handling gasoline. 

Gasoline Can Safety

  • Check local and state bulletins for gasoline storage regulations. Fire codes and laws typically restrict the amount of gasoline an individual owner can store (generally no more than 25 gallons) in approved containers of less than five gallons each. 
  • Never store gasoline in non-reusable plastic containers or glass containers. Safely store gasoline in an approved container, such as a plastic gas can. A plastic gas can is sealed using safety mechanisms to prevent leaks. These containers also come with a built-in gas can spout to deposit gasoline into the vehicle’s fuel tank without spilling it.

Use approved containers for gasoline storage.

  • To fill your gas can, place it on the ground and insert the fuel pump nozzle into the gas container. It’s unsafe to fill the empty gasoline container on an elevated surface such as a truck bed. A flat surface ensures you won’t spill. 
  • Fill the container with gasoline to 90-95 percent capacity. To avoid gas spillage, never fill the container to the brim. Stop filling the container when it’s 50 percent filled. Then, fill slowly and check the fluid level constantly. For optimal visibility, you may try removing the nozzle of the gas can from its container.
  • Ensure the gas can lid is tightly screwed on after filling it with gasoline. Failure to do so can cause a gasoline spill, which can go unnoticed and put you in danger.

Do not place the gasoline can on an elevated surface to fill it.

  • Keep gasoline containers at room temperature. Store them at a safe distance (at least 50 feet) from heat sources, such as a space heater, electrical generator, furnace, or other devices. 
  • When pouring gasoline into another container, always do so slowly and carefully to avoid spillage. Gasoline vapors are heavier than air and can travel along the floor to ignition sources. 
  • Your gas can should be stored properly in a cool, dry place out of reach of children and pets.
  • Keep storage tanks outside the home, in a detached garage or lawn shed. Never store gasoline inside your home. 
  • Place the gasoline container in an upright position when transporting it. To prevent the gas container from falling, use a rope to tie it securely. Ensure that the container is sealed when it’s in motion. 
  • It’s important to remember that regular gasoline has a shelf life of three to six months before it begins to degrade.

Gasoline Containers and Their Explosion Risks

If you use gasoline to power machinery or equipment containing small engines, taking steps to prevent accidents and injuries when using gasoline containers is absolutely essential. According to scientific tests carried out by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Department of Fire Protection, the following conditions pose the most significant risk for an explosion: 

  • Holding the can at a 42-degree pouring angle, a common angle at which consumers pour gasoline, without the lid and spout open
  • A very low volume of gasoline inside the gas can
  • Low temperatures
  • Gasoline that has been stored for a long time

Always Handle Gasoline Outdoors

Use a ventilated area when you are going to work with gasoline. Never fill up equipment indoors, even if it’s in a garage with the door open. Fumes can build up quickly and be dangerous. Make sure clean air is thoroughly circulating. 

Gasoline and Cleanup Materials 

Clean up spilled gasoline immediately with rags, paper, or sawdust, then dispose of the cleanup materials in secure containers that are designed for proper disposal. Don’t discard materials in toilets, drains, sewers, or garbage disposals. Doing so could start a fire or seep into streams, bays, lakes, or groundwater, causing contamination. 

Contact your local government or hazardous waste disposal center about the safest way to dispose of a large gasoline spill.


If you’re using gasoline to power a lawn mower, generator, leaf blower, or other outdoor equipment, safely pour the gasoline into the equipment. Always allow machinery to cool off before refueling. 

Most lawn mower engines are designed to use minimum octane-rated gasoline. Anything higher can easily damage the fuel system of the mower. Do not modify your mower’s engine to run on alternate fuels. If gasoline in the lawn mower’s small engine has not been treated with a fuel stabilizer, drain it into an appropriate container. 

Always turn off lawn mowers before refueling.


  • Use gasoline for anything other than its intended purpose. 
  • Use gasoline as a cleaning agent or fuel for kerosene heaters or lamps. 
  • Mix gasoline with kerosene or diesel.

Lastly, NEVER smoke or ignite flames when handling gasoline. Please do not allow children to handle gasoline; keep it out of their reach and sight.

By adhering to proper safety precautions, you can protect yourself and your household from gasoline dangers. Always exercise caution and common sense when handling the highly flammable liquid. If you have any questions regarding gasoline safety or are unsure of what measures to take, please consult your local fire department or contact a professional for further information. Your safety is of the utmost importance.