Compressed natural gas (CNG) is an alternative fuel that powers more than 12 million vehicles on the road today. There are many benefits of CNG that make it an attractive fueling option for companies and municipalities, which is why many are making the switch from traditional petroleum-based fuels to CNG.
According to the US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, CNG is much safer than traditional fuels because it is lighter than air and less volatile (harder to ignite). This means that the chance of fire or combustion is much lower.
Although CNG is much safer, incidents and accidents can occur, so it’s still important to follow safety procedures. The following are six CNG fueling station safety tips designed to minimize risk and keep you out of harm’s way.
1. Turn off the vehicle.
When you arrive at the CNG fueling station, the very first thing you should do is turn off your vehicle. If your engine’s compartments produce any sparks, this becomes a potential fire hazard. In addition, static caused by the interaction between you and the running vehicle can also increase the risk of injury. Turning off the engine can minimize risk and help keep you safe.
2. Stop smoking.
No matter if it’s a pipe, cigar, cigarette, or other smoking device, it’s considered an open flame, and you do not want to bring it around a CNG fueling station. Even though CNG has a high ignition temperature, it is still a flammable fuel, and having an open flame increases your risk of injury. Be sure to put the item out somewhere safe before arriving at the fueling station, and never light up while fueling either.
3. Locate emergency shutoffs.
Before you begin fueling, it’s very important that you locate the emergency shutoffs at your location. These are designed to quickly shut the dispenser off in the event of an emergency. Most fueling stations will have these shutoffs clearly labeled; however, if you cannot find it, be sure to ask someone.
4. Locate fire extinguishers.
When looking for the emergency shutoff, you should also locate the closest fire extinguisher. These should be located at or near every dispenser. Once you’ve found it, familiarize yourself with how to use the extinguisher too. This way, in the event of a fire, you can quickly and accurately suppress it.
5. Follow instructions.
Although CNG dispensers work similarly to traditional fuel pumps, there are a few differences to the process. To ensure you are fueling correctly and keeping yourself safe, be sure to thoroughly read and follow the posted directions. If you do not notice directions, ask someone for assistance.
6. Pay attention.
Keeping your eyes, ears, and nose open while at the station can help prevent accidents and injury. If you see, hear, or smell gas, be sure to use the emergency shutoff and call 911. Even minor leaks can cause major damage if left untreated, so always err on the side of caution.
Although CNG fuel is extremely safe, using these tips will help ensure you always put safety first.