Hey, Iowa! Let's chat about something that we all do, but maybe don't think too much about—pumping gas. That's right, the mundane ritual that usually involves more grumbling about gas prices than attention to the rules plastered all over the pump. But, have you ever wondered why those rules exist? Spoiler alert: it's not just because some overly cautious person decided to ruin our fun.

attachment-IMG_8889
Credit: Tom Drake
loading...

No Smoking

First off, let's talk about the big red "No Smoking" sign. Seems like common sense, right? But there's always that one person who thinks, "Hey, my cigarette won't cause any trouble!" Listen, buddy, unless you want to see what a real-life explosion looks like, put it out. Gasoline vapors are extremely flammable. Your cool, rebellious act could turn into a fireworks display that nobody wants to see.

Credit; Canva
Credit; Canva
loading...

Stop Engine

Sure, leaving the car running might save you from the dreaded moment of silence where you realize your favorite song just ended or some extreme cold or heat, but it's not worth it. Static electricity from your running engine could turn your car into a mobile fireball.

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva
loading...

That being said, while it is true that fuel vapors can ignite at even low temperatures, the likelihood is extremely low. That's because modern fuel tanks are airtight, preventing vapors from escaping. Additionally, the fuel pump and fuel lines are located away from the engine, reducing the risk of heat transfer.

AM 1490 WDBQ logo
Get our free mobile app

So, technically speaking, it is safe to pump gas with your car on as long as you follow basic safety precautions, but only if you know your car is in perfect running condition.

Static Electricity

Don't get back into your vehicle while refueling. Entering and exiting the car could cause static electricity to build up on you. It's quite easy to avoid, however. Simply touching metal before handling the nozzle discharges any static buildup. Think of it as giving your car a gentle, friendly pat before feeding it. The good news is that static discharge fuel fires are mostly a myth now. Modern gas pumps are designed with a grounding wire that is connected to the nozzle. The wire channels any static electricity you may bring to it away from the fuel tank, eliminating the risk of a spark.

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva
loading...

Turn Off Cell Phone

Okay, this one always seems a bit over-the-top, right? And honestly it really is (now). I mean, we're not defusing bombs here. But, believe it or not, your phone could potentially cause a spark. It was a much more common worry when cell phones first came on the market. There is always the chance, but this warning has become more myth than fact as researchers have never been able to ignite a fuel source with a stock cell phone.

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva
loading...

Health Warnings

Ever read the part about fuel vapors being harmful, and it being fatal if swallowed? Yeah, it turns out gasoline isn't a smoothie ingredient. Avoiding prolonged breathing of those fumes as they have caused cancer in lab rats. While we aren't rats, better safe than sorry! Just please, don't sniff the fuel.

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva
loading...

Filling Portable Containers

Ever tried to fill a gas container in the back of your truck? Don't. Place the container on the ground first. And remember, only use approved containers. That old milk jug you found in the garage isn’t going to cut it. And if it's a Styrofoam container: congratulations, you've basically made a napalm starter kit, just add a spark and kiss your butt goodbye.

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva
loading...

Don't Overfill

The signs telling you not to "top off" your tank aren't just there to be annoying. Overfilling can cause spills or even fuel expulsions. Aside from being bad for the environment, it can mess up your car's vapor recovery system. Plus, you don’t want to be that person leaving a trail of gasoline behind like some dangerous breadcrumb path.

Stay at the Pump

The rule about staying at the pump while refueling—yes, we know, it’s tempting to run inside for a quick snack, but resist the urge. If the latch sticks, it could overflow, creating a puddle of flammable liquid around your car. If you want to practice your firefighting skills, there are safer ways.

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva
loading...

In Case of Fire

If a fire does break out, the instructions are pretty clear: Do Not Remove Nozzle. Evacuate everyone, hit the emergency shutoff switch, and call 911. This isn't the time to be a hero; let the professionals handle it. Your job is to get everyone to safety.

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva
loading...

So next time you're at the pump, remember these rules aren't just there to annoy you—they're there to keep you safe: but a good amount of them are now based on myth. Either way, following them makes you look like a responsible, sensible adult. I'm just sorry I can't help protect your bank account at the pump.

MORE: Some of the Memes & Tweets That Have Made Us Laugh (and Maybe Think)

Best scenic drives in Iowa

It's time to hit the road—Stacker compiled a list of the best scenic drives in Iowa using data from Tripadvisor as of March 2024.

Gallery Credit: Stacker