A woman suffered severe burns recently when she refuelled her car while using her cellphone. Fire and Rescue Department points to the phone as the cause of fire. However, is it true that we should not use our mobile phones while refuelling?

According to the  The Star, the woman was believed to have placed the nozzle into the filler neck before moving into the backseat to take the call (with the door closed).

Moments later, a worker discovered smoke emerging from that vehicle. When the door was opened, thick smoke was spewing out of the car with the woman slumped in the backseat. The victim was sent to the hospital for treatment.Shell-Helix-Penang-1

According to a report by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US, “The wireless industry has done studies on the potential for wireless phones to create sparks that could possibly ignite flammable materials. The studies generally conclude that while it may be theoretically possible for a spark from a cell phone battery to ignite gas vapour under very precise conditions, there is no documented incident where the use of a wireless phone was found to cause a fire or explosion at a gas station.”

To prove the point, let’s watch this Mythbusters video!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw6-PhvcS3M&feature=youtu.be

It turns out mobile phones are not the cause of fiery explosions in petrol stations. In fact, a test from Mythbusters revealed that mobile phones do not ignite fuel vapour at a filling station. The risk actually comes from the electrostatic discharge between a driver and the car.

Therefore, the fire was unlikely to be caused by the victim’s mobile phone but improper electrostatic discharge. A touch on the car’s body by the victim to discharge could have prevented that horrible accident from happening.

Fire happens when fuel vapour, air, and spark come together. The latter happens through electrostatic discharge, running car engine, or according to some unconfirmed reports, waves emitted from mobile phones. That said, let’s wait for the full investigation results.petronas

Meanwhile, Petronas has released a public service announcement to remind everyone of the of the safety guidelines in the vicinity of the petrol station. We might have rebuked the point on the usage of mobile phones, but let’s not take the risk.

finger-static

Also, it is very important to always discharge your body of electrostatic charge by touching a metal part on your vehicle before refuelling. Last, but not least, avoid generating electrostatic charge through movements such as getting in and out from your vehicle while refuelling.

Stay safe everyone!


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Travis Chang
Formerly spamming articles about cars and motorsports on this site until the day-job caught up. While the day job remains as exciting as a certain beige sedan, writing about cars could be his closest display of showing passion on cars until he gets either a Bimmer, or an Hachiroku one day...