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Using Your Phone At The Petrol Station, Can It Cause An Explosion?

2 Mins read

“Switch off Mobile Phones” is one of such warning notices you will see in filling stations. It is so common that it has become a norm to see with no smoking signs. We have lived so long with the belief that using a mobile phone in a filling station or turning on a generator can start a fire. Is there proof to validate that? None yet, just myriads of assertions and hearsays.
Switch off

Several factors can lead to a fire outbreak, especially in places where volatile products are easily accessible. One of such factors could be a naked flame, friction, an electric spark and many more. The myth of mobile phones being one of the factors contributing to fire explosions is yet to be fully understood. In this piece, we will be digging deep into knowing if there are some truths to these assertions or we are just being paranoid.

Before rushing to a conclusion whether mobile phones when operated close to a petrol pump or a generator will lead to an explosion, we should appreciate the major components of a mobile phone which include – A circuit board or panel, liquid crystal display(screen), the metal body, microphone(s), speaker and a battery amongst other things.

Petroleum and many other products of crude differ from one another due to the varying composition of some distinguishing compounds. The composition of petroleum will contain many trace elements, the key compounds are carbon (93% – 97%), hydrogen (10% – 14%), nitrogen (0.1% – 2%), oxygen (01.% – 1.5%) and sulphur (0.5% – 6). The hydrocarbons typically present is in the following percentages: paraffin (15% – 60%), naphthenes (30% – 60%), aromatics (3% to 30%), with asphaltic making up the remainder.

In the Sunday PUNCH interview with a professor of Communication Engineering, Francis Idachabba, he faulted the claims that using mobile phones at petrol stations or while turning on generators could cause explosions.

In his words, he said that “It’s not likely that a fire would happen while using the phone at a filling station. An explosion won’t happen unless there is a contract between the fuel and fire” the question becomes, can cellphone generate such heat or fire that can trigger an explosion? The Professor solidifying his claims added that “The technology for phones and fuel are different. They are on separate arcs. Nobody has shown any proof that using a mobile phone at a filling station can cause it. Technically too from the place I am seeing it, the relationships are very far apart; the manufacturers have specifications. For mobile phones to generate so much power to the extent that it would cause a fire in a petrol station is an unfounded claim”

Coming to think of it, if mobile phones have the propensity of wreaking such havoc, the manufacturers would have indicated such on their manuals, if they haven’t till date, it means some factors can readily lead to an explosion aside mobile phones. Gas is more volatile than petrol we know, just friction is enough to ignite a fire. This is why cases of gas explosions are most ghastly unlike that of petroleum or kerosene. As for generators exploding, the truth is – trying to refill a generating set while it is running is a great risk. The generator is hot already, few drops of petrol on a heated exhaust pipe or a spark from the plug during the process of refilling is more to cause an explosion. Turning off your car engine before a refill is a proactive measure that we all must imbibe for safety.
Fire outbreak

As I conclude, Using mobile phones in a filling station, near petroleum products and machines does not cause fire as contrary to the common assumptions. Yes, there could be a probability if there is a case of an electrical spark that can lead to a fire. A spark can occur when two batteries join together just like in the battery of a car which can only generate a spark if you put the batter my heads together.

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About author
We are the same, we may only be different in our experiences, values and exposures. Technology is a big part of my experience, learning is one of my values and writing my credible means of exposure.
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