BARTEC microswitch as an explosion protection at the pump.

Smoking is bad for your health

Did you know that petrol on its own is barely flammable? Only when mixed with air can it be deadly. All it takes is a small amount of petrol vapour and a spark – such as that from burning cigarette ashes – and BOOM! That is why smoking is strictly forbidden at the pump.

Could your cushion kill you?

When you’re stood at the pump filling up your tank, it could be a bad idea to quickly nip back into your car. The friction on the seat cushions can create an electrostatic charge on your body. If you go to grab the nozzle again, the sparks can jump over to the fuel. This can also happen, by the way, if the tank filler neck is defective or if you are using poor-quality tyres.

The mobile phone – dynamite in your pocket?

Fortunately, getting a call from your mum while you’re busy filling up is not life threatening. In order for the electromagnetic field of a mobile phone to be able to cause an explosion, the antenna must deliver at least six watts. The current maximum is two. The phone could only send sparks flying in theory if it fell on the floor and the battery sprang out.

Staying safe

Don’t panic. Modern petrol stations are fitted with a range of equipment to protect against the risk of explosion. Even their open construction reduces the risk. In addition, modern filling stations siphon off the fuel fumes and feed them back into the system. One explosion protection invention that has long been a standard feature of filling stations is actually an early BARTEC product. A microswitch, the size of a matchbox, fitted directly into the pump. As soon as you take the nozzle from the holder, you hear the switch click and the filling process starts. The mechanical switch’s pressurised enclosure prevents sparks escaping and causing an explosion. In 1975, the invention of the pressurised enclosure with a plastic casing by the company founder was the first milestone for BARTEC.