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How (and How Not) to Stockpile Gasoline

·2-min read
Photo credit: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS - Getty Images
Photo credit: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS - Getty Images

Hello again, it's us, your friendly neighborhood car people, here today with an important message: don't hoard gasoline. And if you must hoard gasoline, please don't do it like any of these people.

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If you're not On Twitter and only became aware that Americans have started loading up their hatchbacks with trash bags full of gasoline when you were asked to write 200 words on the topic, here's a primer: On Saturday, the operators of the Colonial Pipeline, a gas pipeline that runs from Texas up the Eastern seaboard to New Jersey, were forced to temporarily shut down the pipeline in the wake of a ransomware attack.

Though the operators have said they expect to "substantially" restore service in the next few days, fears of gas shortages have sent people rushing to gas stations with jerry cans (and all kinds of other things) in tow. Gas prices are up eight cents on average nationally since last week, and though initial projections suggested fuel outages would be limited, USA Today says that 71 percent of stations in Charlotte, North Carolina, and 59 percent of stations in Atlanta were out of fuel as of Wednesday morning.

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Given that information, your lizard brain may be telling you to gather up all your old milk jugs and jump in line, but we urge you not to do that. If you feel that you absolutely must be stockpiling gasoline (rather than limiting your driving until the shortage abates or just, you know, not panicking), make sure you transport your treasure in a container designed for that purpose, and keep the cans upright and secure the whole time you're transporting them.

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Do not store gasoline inside your home or apartment or in your car. Instead, keep it in a well-ventilated place away from your house and any electrical equipment. Also, keep it protected from the sun, which could quickly evaporate the gas. All of this goes double for people not living in the area served by the Colonial Pipeline, the only pipeline affected in last weekend's attack. And before you head out hunting for fuel, ask yourself—do you still have any toilet paper lying around from last spring?

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