38741672 - pumping gas at gas station. close up of a hand holding fuel nozzle.You practice safe habits on the road, but do you do the same when you’re fueling your vehicle? While static electricity-fueled fires at gas stations do not happen frequently, they do happen, and most often in cool, cold or dry weather. Don’t put you or your family at risk. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe while filling up.

The first and perhaps most important rule is to avoid getting back into your vehicle during fueling. Staying outside the vehicle can reduce the amount of static produced and therefore reduce the risk of a fire. If you cannot avoid getting in and exiting your vehicle while you’re fueling it, discharge any static build-up before reaching for the fuel nozzle by touching something metal with a bare hand — such as the vehicle door. Do this in an area away from where you’re adding fuel.

It’s also important to turn off your vehicle engine while you’re fueling it. And while we’re on the subject of safety, make sure your vehicle is in park and and/or you’ve set the emergency brake. Disable or turn off any auxiliary sources of ignition such as a camper or trailer heater. And never smoke, light matches or lighters while refueling at the pump or when using gasoline anywhere else. When adding gasoline into a container, use only an approved portable container and place it on the ground to avoid a possible static electricity ignition of fuel vapors.

Another word of caution: Put that cellphone away while you are fueling up. A gas station is a higher risk area for cell phone use. Why? Because there are explosive vapors. According to National Fire Protection Association, you’re not supposed to use electronic materials, i.e. cellphones, at gas pumps. That phone call, email or text can wait 5 minutes while you complete the transaction.