WATCH: Man fills water bottles with gas in Richmond; first responders caution against using unsafe containers


RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — As panic-buying for gasoline ensued in the wake of a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, videos and photos began to circulate widely on the internet showing people flocking to gas pumps, filling cars, containers and recreational equipment with fuel.

Some of those containers were — let’s say — not approved for fuel storage.

10 On Your Side obtained a video taken at a gas station this week in Richmond. The video shows an unidentified man filling at least two water bottles with fuel.

Those who teach fire safety say this is far from safe, and far from the only alternative storage container seen in use since the run on gas began along the East Coast.

“There have been reports of long lines at gas stations and Virginians traveling to remote locations to find gas reserves in order to stock up,” a release from the Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP) said Wednesday.

VDFP helps support fire and emergency organizations in the state said gasoline should never be put into a container that isn’t designed to hold it.

Gas is flammable and must be treated with care. VDFP passed along the following reminders if you are looking to store gasoline:

  • Flammable fuels should not be dispensed into portable containers over 6 gallons, and the containers should be listed and approved for the flammable liquid intended for the portable container. 
  • Portable containers should have a tight closure with a screwed or spring-loaded cover to prevent spills and vapors from escaping. 
  • When transporting gasoline in a portable container make sure it is secured against tipping and sliding, and never leave it in direct sunlight or in the trunk of a car.
  • Flammable fuel should never be dispensed into portable cargo tanks or any other container not listed for flammable liquids. 
  • Never fill a container while located in the trunk, passenger area of a car or in the bed of a pickup truck. 
  • All containers should be place on the ground and clear of any possible ignition sources such as the exhaust from a vehicle. 
  • Fill portable containers slowly to decrease the chance of static electricity buildup and minimize spilling or splattering. Keep the nozzle in contact with the rim of the container opening while refueling. Fill container no more than 95 percent full to allow for expansion. 
  • If gasoline spills on the container, make sure that it has evaporated before you place the container in your vehicle. Report spills to the station attendant.
  • Never smoke around flammable fuels. 

Ultimately, industry experts say there is no need to store gas as there is not a gas shortage, only a distribution shortage.

On Wednesday, U.S. officials and the Colonial Pipeline — which delivers 45% of gas to the east coast — announced operations were resuming, which is expected to increase the supply of gasoline in East Coast states that rely on the pipeline.

It’s a good start, but issues at the pump could continue for several more days during the start-up period.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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