Cell phones, static, & gas stations
Things you can do to protect yourself
Paying attention to the little things
can make a big difference
Mobil Oil has a formal policy that all cell phones must be off at their service stations. Cell/Mobile phones & refueling don't mix.
The Shell Oil Company recently issued a warning after three incidents in which mobile phones ignited fumes during fueling operations.
In the first case, the phone was placed on the car's trunk lid during fueling; it rang and the ensuing fire destroyed the car and the gasoline pump.
In the second, an individual suffered severe burns to his face when fumes ignited as he answered a call while refueling his car.
And in the third, an individual suffered burns to the thigh and groin as fumes ignited when the phone, which was in his pocket, rang while he was fueling his car.
You should know that mobile phones could ignite fuel or fumes. Mobile phones that light up when switched on or when they ring release enough energy to provide a spark for ignition. Mobile phones should not be used in filling stations, or when fueling lawn mowers, boat, etc.
Mobile phones should not be used, or should be turned off, around other materials that generate flammable or explosive fumes or dust i.e. solvents, chemicals, gases, grain dust, etc.)
Hopefully, most of you have heard that it's unsafe to smoke or use your cell phone while pumping gas. Now here's another safety warning you should know about concerning static electricity. The following information is from a Richmond Refinery Employee:
Four Rules for Safe Refueling:
1. Turn off engine
2. Don't smoke
3. Don't use a cell phone - leave it inside the vehicle or turn it off
4. Don't re-enter your vehicle during fueling
A member of Petroleum Equipment Institute is working on a campaign to try and make people aware of fires as a result of "static electricity" at gas pumps. His company has researched 150 cases of these fires. His results were very surprising:
1. Out of 150 cases, almost all of them were women.
2. Almost all cases involved the person getting back in their vehicle while the nozzle was still pumping gas, when the pumping was finished and the fire started as a result of static when they went back to pull the nozzle out.
3. Most had on rubber-soled shoes.
4. Most men never get back in their vehicle until completely finished. This is why they are seldom involved in these types of fires.
5. Don't ever use cell phones when pumping gas
6. It is the vapors that come out of the gas that cause the fire, when connected with static charges.
7. There were 29 fires from a variety of makes and models where the vehicle was reentered, and then exited and the nozzle was touched during refueling. Some resulted in damage to the vehicle, to the station, and to the customer.
8. There were 17 fires that occurred before, during or immediately after the gas cap was removed and before fueling began.
He stresses to NEVER get back into your vehicle while filling it with gas. If you absolutely HAVE to get in your vehicle while the gas is pumping, make sure you get out, close the door TOUCHING THE METAL, before you ever pull the nozzle out. This way the static from your body will be discharged before you ever remove the nozzle.
The Petroleum Equipment Institute, along with several other companies, is now really trying to make the public aware of this danger. You can find out more information by going to www.pei.org. Once here, click in the center of the screen where it says "Stop Static".
It may be a good idea to share this information with your family and friends, especially those who have kids in the car with them while pumping gas. If this were to happen to them, they may not be able to get the children out in time.
What to do if you lose your wallet
We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed using your name, address, SS#, credit, etc. Unfortunately I (author of this piece) have first hand knowledge. My wallet was stolen and within a week the thieve(s):
.Ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package
.Applied for a VISA credit card
.Had a credit line approved to buy a computer
.Received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online
Here is some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know. As everyone always advises, cancel your credit cards immediately, but the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them easily (having to hunt for them is additional stress you will not need at that point!).
File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen. this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one). But what is perhaps most important, I never thought to do. Call the three national credit-reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and SS#. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit. By the time I was advised to do this (almost 2 weeks after the theft) all the damage had been done (there are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert). Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them in their tracks.
The numbers for the credit bureaus are:
.Equifax 1(800) 525-6285
.Experian (formerly TRW) 1(888) 397-3742
.Trans Union 1 (800) 680-7289
.Social Security Administration fraud hotline 1 (800) 269-0271
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