Consumer Product Safety Commission data shows that about 3 children under age 5 die and more than 2,000 are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year from a variety of incidents involving gasoline. The data shows that some 27 percent of the injuries are from thermal burns.
Experts agree that a flame arrestor, "a safety device to prevent flashback of the flames into a fuel container and the subsequent explosion and shooting of the flames and burning gasoline" would prevent many of the burns resulting from ignited gasoline cans. Fumes outside the gas can ignite as you pour or fill, a flashback fire is possible that could ignite the contents of the can itself. But these accidents can be prevented by a flame arrester, a piece of wire mesh costing less than a dollar. Yet America’s largest manufacturer of plastic gas cans, Blitz USA, chose cost-cutting over safety.
Plastic gas cans represent 95 percent of all gas cans sold in America, or an estimated 19 million per year. Blitz USA, the manufacturer accounting for 75 percent of all U.S. sales, does not include a flame arrester in their plastic gas cans. Some companies chose to make safer products such as The No-Spill gas can, http://www.nospill.com/. But David Jones, counsel for Blitz USA, said on a 2008 episode of Dan Rather Reports: “All of these accidents can be avoided if the consumers heed the warnings, if they use common sense with respect to gasoline.”
The facts do not support Blitz: Rob Jacoby was walking with a Blitz gas can on a crisp Oregon day when a static electric discharge from his body caused the can to detonate. Chad Funchess, was filling up his chain saw when his Blitz gas can erupted and engulfed him in an inferno. And William Melvin, a member of a Porsche racing team pit crew was refueling his lawnmower when his Blitz gas can exploded and threw him though his barn.
Flame arresters were invented 200 years ago and are used today on everything from water heaters, charcoal lighter fluid and even Baccardi 151 rum. Flame arresters have also been used in gas cans for 100 years and have effectively prevented explosions. But Blitz USA deliberately left out flame arresters to save on manufacturing expenses, even after more than 75 reported cases of burn victims were filed.
Making a dangerous and defective product is not good business, and now Blitz has floundered into bankruptcy. But instead of accepting responsibility for the damage done by its product, Blitz has run to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to publicly complain about the abusive trial lawyers – still demonstrating no concern for the burn victims. For those advocating consumer safety, we say good riddance! If you have a Blitz gas can, consider replacing it. Be certain to use a gas can with a flame arrestor, and consider a metal can rather than plastic. More tips for the safe handling of gasoline from Stop Gas Fires:
- Never use gas to start a fire. Parents who mix gas and fire put themselves — and anyone nearthem — at risk of injury or death. Kids also learn by example.
- Talk to your kids about gasoline. Teenager Austin Bailiff nearly died in a gas fire. Share his video with your child at www.StopGasFires.org.
- Keep gas out of reach of children. Out of sight isn’t enough, for any age. Store your gasoline where children cannot access it. Many parents keep their gas in a locked location.
- Use a proper container. Never use old soda bottles or other makeshift containers to store gas;someone might think it’s a beverage and drink it. And even a small cup of gasoline can emit vapors and may ignite.
- Store gasoline in a well-ventilated area outside your vehicle and living space. Consider a detached garage or outdoor storage shed.
- Keep gas away from any source of heat, spark or flame. Even common household appliances like water heaters and clothes dryers can ignite gas vapors.
- Read the warning label on your gas can. A list of safety precautions is imprinted on every approved portable gasoline container. Make sure you read the warnings if you store gasoline at home.
- Visit StopGasFires.org for more information and to help spread the word to other parents.