The Dangers of Plastic Gas Cans

Most people are pretty familiar with safely handling and using plastic gas cans. They’re a popular choice for just about any American consumer with a lawn mower. In the past, plastic gas can explosions were often attributed to some type of ‘user error.’ As it turns out, under the right conditions, those containers can explode without warning and without any degree of user error. NBC News has recently released an investigative report on the dangers of these popular plastic gas cans.

The Research

Research was conducted, with the support of the gas can industry, at Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s combustion laboratory. They found that under certain conditions, dangerous ‘flashback’ explosions can occur. The same results were found in additional similar testing that was conducted for lawsuits, a government criminal investigation and for NBC News.

Just the Facts

• Approximately 20 million gas cans are purchased each year.
• There are currently more than 100 million plastic gas cans in U.S. circulation.
• At least 11 reported deaths involving gas can explosions during the pouring of gasoline have occurred since 1998.
• Gas can explosions during the pouring of gasoline have also been responsible for 1,200 emergency room visits since 1998.

The Dangerous Conditions

These gas can explosions can occur when a few conditions are present. Typically, there will be little volume of gasoline left in a container. When the gas vapor escapes the container, a spark or flame can ignite a ‘flashback.’ This flashback can travel down the spout and back inside of the container. With the right air/gas vapor mixture, a dangerous or deadly explosion can occur. It’s important to point out that even a static electricity spark can cause this explosion to take place.

Making Plastic Gas Containers Safe

Advocates are calling on the gas can industry to make these plastic gas containers safe by requiring all new gas cans to have flame arrestors. These flame arrestors are tiny mesh disks made of metal. They are put on the top of the spout, and they can stop flames from ‘flashing back’ into the container. This simple safety measure is already being used on more expensive gas cans and other fuel industry containers.
Any kind of burn injury or gas explosion can leave surviving victims with devastating injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in some type of gas explosion, contact the experienced team at Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, Inc. today.

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