Splish, Splash

It was one of those moments when I kept thinking, “How stupid can you be?  You’re a safety consultant!”  Fortunately, such thoughts don’t occur very often, but there I was in my driveway…


I was filling my lawnmower using a full 5 gallon gasoline container.  Since the plastic can was full it weighed about 35 lbs and the gasoline poured out of the plastic spout very quickly.  As I was trying to keep the gas flowing without spilling it the lawnmower tank filled quickly.  I was crouching over the lawnmower as I pulled the spout out of the tank.  The spout had been bent over in order to keep the pour going into the tank and when I pulled it out it flipped upward, splashing gas back towards my face.  The “how stupid…” thought that I mentioned earlier now came flooding over me as my right eye began to burn. 


I ran inside and flushed my eye with water for the next several minutes.  The burn subsided somewhat, but the eye was uncomfortable for the next several hours.  Now the question is “what did I learn from this and what can the readers take away from this story?”  

  • Keep your face away from any pouring operation.
  • Wear safety glasses when handling gasoline or any other hazardous chemical.

Additional safety tips for handling gasoline:

  • Never fill gas cans while in the bed of a truck or in a trunk; always fill cans on the ground.
  • Don’t get in and out of your car when pumping gas; the static buildup can discharge igniting the gas vapors. Remember, the flash point of gasoline is -40 degrees F; it is always extremely flammable!
  • Always wash your hands after handling gasoline, especially before eating or drinking.
  • Store gasoline in proper containers.

Nearly everyone handles gasoline; just remember it is a toxic substance that is extremely flammable.  Give it the respect it deserves.  I always wear safety glasses when mowing the lawn, but will now ensure I have them on before I ever start the engine.  I recommend you do the same.  For some sobering reading on what is in gasoline and its potential hazards, download a gasoline Material Safety Data Sheet using the BLR MSDS Search feature available through the Safety Director at MEMIC.com.