Homeowners often keep gasoline or diesel fuel on hand for use in lawn equipment. You must handle these useful but dangerous fuels cautiously. Take these steps to protect yourself, your family and your home.
Understanding the risk
Gasoline and diesel are both flammable liquids. Gasoline also has highly volatile fumes to a degree diesel does not. When ignited, gasoline vapors combust explosively.
Gasoline should be stored only in a legally approved container. The law requires that gas cans be red in color and have safety information printed on them. Never store gasoline in unapproved containers; always have a proper lid on the opening, not a rag, foil, or other improvised covering.
Store gasoline only in a detached garage, storage room, or shed, not in the living quarters of a home. Keep it away from flame or potential sparks, such as from a water heater, furnace or electrical outlet. Never store in direct sunlight or in a room with a temperature above 80 degrees.
Keep just enough gas on hand for a needed job. Stored gasoline decomposes after several weeks and can damage engines. The maximum recommended amount of to keep on hand is five gallons, which should be used on a timely basis. Do not keep lawn equipment tanks or generators filled up. Instead, fill them with fresh gas when needed.
Diesel has a higher combustion point than gasoline and will not explode. It is still a flammable fuel, however, so the same safe storage protocols apply.
Legally approved diesel cans are yellow. You can store diesel longer than gasoline before it degrades, between six months and a year. Keep it at a temperature below 85 degrees.
Diesel can be contaminated by bacteria and fungi, so keep containers properly sealed and in dry storage.
The same safety steps apply to fuels like charcoal lighter fluid, which has nearly the same combustibility as gas. Keep lighter fluids stored safely away from grilling operations. Secure all fuels so that young children cannot access them.