An eighteen-year-old Evansville, Indiana, woman was critically burned while trying to rid her hair of lice using gasoline. Soaking her hair in gasoline in her apartment bathroom, the gasoline fumes were ignited by the pilot light flame of a nearby heater. The unfortunate woman is now in a medically induced coma, suffering second- and third-degree burns over more than half of her body. (The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Feb. 26, 2009)
Victims may be desperate to rid themselves of lice infestations, but as distasteful and annoying as these parasites are, they pose no real health threat and certainly aren’t worth the risk of setting yourself on fire. Gasoline or other liquid fuels should never be brought inside the home, and certainly should never be applied to your body. Contact with the skin will cause the skin to dry out and crack, and you’re fortunate if that’s the only result.
Liquid gasoline isn’t flammable; the fumes are. Gas fumes are heavy and will creep along the floor or ground, concentrating in depressions. A tiny flame or spark can ignite the fumes from as far as 12 feet away. The pilot light from a heater or stove, or even the electric spark from turning a light switch on or off, is enough to cause an explosion.
Please follow these gasoline safety tips to prevent gasoline fires and explosions:
Gasoline should never be brought inside the home, and should not be stored in an attached garage. Store gasoline in a storage shed or detached garage, away from possible ignition sources.
Store only the amount of gasoline you will use in your lawn mower or other lawn maintenance equipment within a reasonable amount of time, and always let the machinery cool off before refilling.
Never store gasoline in glass or plastic milk jugs. Use only approved metal or plastic containers that are designed for storing gasoline or other flammable liquid fuels. (One of my grandchildren picked up a Mountain Dew bottle to drink from it, only to find it contained gasoline. My husband would never put gasoline in anything but his gas can, and it’s scary to think what might have happened).
Don’t try to put out a gasoline fire yourself, or stop the flow of gas. Get out of the area and call professional fire fighters.
Never pour gasoline on a fire. As stupid as this sounds, I’ve seen it done. The flames can travel up the fumes created by the stream of gas.
Never use gasoline as a combustion aid when starting a campfire or burning trash, or firing up the charcoal in your barbecue grill.
Extinguish cigarettes or cigars before handling gas, whether you’re filling your car up at the gas station, working on your carburetor, or filling the lawn equipment.
Never let children handle gasoline or other flammable liquids.
Don’t siphon gasoline out of a tank by mouth. Do not induce vomiting if gasoline is swallowed, and seek medical attention immediately.