Thursday, October 8, 2009

Should you use your phone at the petrol station?

Should you use your phone at the petrol station?

Oct 06, 2009

By The AsiaOne Techbot

You've probably seen or heard this before: using your mobile phone at the petrol station or while refueling your vehicle is dangerous because it might cause fires or explosions.

The rumour dates back to as far as the 1990s and is still making its rounds on the Internet via email. An example email posted on the Internet that dates back to 2002 had the headline "SAFETY ALERT - mobile phones and refueling don't mix".

Like other emails of its kind, this one alleges that the information first came from the Shell Oil Company, which had earlier released a warning against using mobile phones at the petrol station.

The email cited three cases in which accidents occurred when a mobile phone was used or activated while in or near a gasoline pump.

In all cases, a person was injured or there was significant damage to property, suggesting that the blaze ignited by the mobile phone was severe.

According to a BBC report, researchers have so far proven the rumour to be untrue.

A BP fire safety officer interviewed by the British news website was also quoted as saying that the rumour is but an "urban legend" and might have seen its origins in the fact that petrol station fires are often cause by discharges of static that ignite petrol fumes.

So, should you still worry about using your mobile phone while topping up gas? It might be safe to say that the rumour is all humbug, but precautions on using phones at petrol stations still exist.

Check the Shell website and you will see that in its Shell Safe page, the petrol company cautions its customers against introducing any ignition sources when at the filling station, and this includes mobile phones.

According to the website, dropping a mobile phone or turning it on and off can cause sparks, which might in turn ignite petrol vapours.

The petrol company also warns against its customers chatting away while refueling their vehicles too, as "using a mobile phone while refueling might cause a lapse in concentration", which might lead to the incorrect refueling of a vehicle, fuel spills and other hazards.

No comments: