The ubiquitous red gas cans in homes across America, are a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode. There are horrific examples of children knocking over gas cans with tricycles, fathers filling up chainsaws or lawnmowers and people just walking by the can when a small spark from static electricity or a water heater’s pilot light flashes into the can, causing the can to explode.
The corporation that makes these gas cans – Blitz USA – knew about these examples. Blitz also knew that countless lives could be saved by spending a few extra pennies and including a metal flame arrester in the can. In fact Blitz included a flame arrester in the metal cans it produced before it started making cheaper plastic cans.
Instead, corporate management made the conscious decision to put jobs and lives at risk. After the company was bought by a private equity firm, Kinderhook, plans to make the gas cans safer were ditched. Then the corporation went out of business and the injured children were blamed.
- Flame arresters were invented 200 years ago and are used today on water heaters, charcoal lighter fluid and even Bacardi 151 rum. Flame arresters have also been used in metal gas cans for 100 years and have effectively prevented explosions. [Society of Forensic Engineers and Scientists]
- Plastic gas cans represent 95 percent of all gas cans sold in America, or an estimated 19 million per year. Blitz, the manufacturer accounting for 75 percent of all U.S. sales, does not include a flame arrester in its plastic gas cans. [Consumer Product Safety Commission]
- Workplace standard 1926.155(l) on fire protection and prevention require that gas cans have flame arresters. Yet gas cans sold to American consumers are not required to meet the same standards. [Occupational Safety and Health Care Administration]
Until 2009 Blitz did not make its gasoline cans childproof. It took an act of Congress to force Blitz to make the needed design changes. The 2008 Children’s Gasoline Burn Prevention Act closed a loophole in the Poison Prevention Act and mandated that all gasoline containers after January 2009 would have to be childproof.
Gas can manufacturers through the Portable Fuel Container Manufacturers Association (PFCMA) are lobbying Congress to change the Children’s Gasoline Burn Prevention Act to grant them a get-out-of-jail free card for not including the life-saving flame arrestors.
The legislation considered in the 112th Congress, H.R.6065 is nothing more than an effort to avoid accountability for producing products that kill and severely injure children.
It is offensive that in order to protect their own profits they would seek to alter an act meant to protect children from burns.