American Burn Association GASOLINE SAFETY Educator’s Guide

Click here to learn more or read an excerpt below.


The severity of a gasoline or flammable liquid burn depends upon three factors – the flash point, vapor density and flammable range. The flash point is the minimum temperature at which the liquid will give off sufficient vapor to form an ignitable mixture with air. The vapor density is the ratio of density of vapor to the density of air. Substances with a vapor density greater than 1 are heavier than air and tend to accumulate in low or enclosed spaces. The flammable range is the range of vapor density within which a flammable substance will ignite.

Flammables are gases and/or liquids that can burn, release vapors or explode at any temperature close to room temperature or below (under 100 degrees Fahrenheit). In the case of gasoline the flash point is so low that it can explode at virtually any temperature: it doesn’t have to be warm.

Gasoline produces ignitable vapors that are very dense, 3 to 4 times heavier than air. These vapors are ignitable at a wide range of mixtures with air, from 1.6 to 7.2 times the density of air. They can travel for great distances along the ground or floor and they tend to accumulate in low enclosed spaces, the same areas where pilot lights on appliances tend to be located. A nearby open flame from the pilot light of a water heater or furnace can easily ignite vapors from these products. Because of its low flash point, high vapor density and wide flammable range, these products are highly explosive. A small spark that causes gasoline to explode may lead to a large fire, which can then lead to an even larger explosion.



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