The plastic fuel can looks a very innocuous and harmless product, which it is when empty, but fill it with petrol and you have a potential disaster on your hands. It has been revealed that just 5 litres of petrol contains the same amount of explosive power as you get from 120 sticks of dynamite, making petrol a liquid explosive, literally. In the UK alone, stats have show that explosions and fires that happen with using these fuel cans now account for around 16% of all burn injuries, and the figure could be a lot higher as many people will treat minor burns themselves.
This means that over 50,000 people are burnt every year when they use a fuel can, with 2500 people being admitted to hospital for an average of 2 weeks. These injuries cost the Health Service dearly with over 35,000 Hospital bed days and 7000 operations, mainly skin grafts all as a result of using a fuel can to dispense petrol. Clearly this is not only terrible for the victims and their families but also a huge cost to the taxpayer.
And with over 200 deaths, 40 of them children, all being literally burnt to death, these are truly horrifying statistics.
And as we all know even the smallest burn can be very painful, and petrol burns tend to be particularly severe as the petrol soaks in to the skin and literally burns it away.
These burns, injuries and deaths are caused by a number of factors; using petrol to light fires is the number one cause followed by others such as filling lawnmowers, strimmers and chainsaws where the tank is overfilled and petrol splashes on the hot exhaust and catches fire and horrifyingly children playing with petrol.
In many cases the fire flashes back up the spout causing the fuel can to explode with devastating consequences that often result in death.
Clearly Petrol in a fuel can is very, very dangerous and yet shockingly a current review of fuel can legislation being undertaken by the Department of work and pensions and the Health and Safety Executive is totally failing to address these issues and implement simple, low cost changes that would significantly reduce the risk of using fuel cans.
As it currently stands any measures or changes to the revised legislation are to be cost neutral to the industry. In reality this means that simple low cost safety measures such as child proof lids, automatic spouts that shut of automatically to prevent overfilling, clear labelling advising users to never use petrol to light fires or barbecues and the fitment of flash arrestors to prevent fuel can explosions will not be included in the new legislation.
And for those of you who do not use fuel cans, imagine filling your car with petrol, having the petrol gush out of the tank onto the car exhaust then catch fire, causing your car to explode and severely burn or kill you, this is clearly a totally unacceptable risk, yet one that consumers have to put up with every time they fill their lawnmower or other power tool.