Petrol Cans: Safe Storage and New Regulations

Running out of petrol when you’re driving can be quite a problem, but with your lawnmower it’s more of an annoyance than anything else. After all, if your mower is out of fuel then the chances are you won’t end up stuck in the middle of nowhere.

As most of us don’t take our mowers to the petrol station, it’s wise to keep some fuel on hand to top up your machine as and when it needs it. The more you know about safe storage methods the lower the risk of a fire or an explosion.

Overfilling tanks or using petrol to light or relight a fire can be a huge problem, and a number of serious fires start through using petrol carelessly or recklessly. As you’ll know, the liquid is highly flammable and as a result it can ignite when used near open flames or when it comes in contact with a hot surface such as a lawnmower exhaust. Petrol and other fuels also give off an extremely flammable vapour, so it’s not just the liquid you need to be careful with.

There are very specific regulations about the type of petrol cans and other containers which can be produced and sold in the UK, and how much petrol you can store at once. While there are currently no legal restrictions regarding the number of containers you can fill at a petrol station, there is a limit to how much can be stored in a vehicle. It’s therefore reasonable to assume you may be challenged if you’re carrying more than the storage limit in your car. Currently this stands at up to 30-litres of petrol in a maximum of two suitable containers in any vehicle.

As a home user you’re unlikely to use a lot of fuel, and the less you transport and store the lower the risk. Modern unleaded petrol can only be stored for around three months before it goes stale. Though stale petrol can still be used in a petrol engine car because of the larger tank volume, it will make your lawnmower difficult to start.

Fuel containers should not be stored in living accommodation; instead they should be secured and stored in a shed or garage.

Petrol Containers 2014

5-litre plastic cans
You are legally able to store two of these cans at home, meaning you could have up to 10 litres stored in plastic cans at any one time. These tend to be the most common form of fuel container, with around three million being sold every year, usually from petrol station forecourts.

10-litre metal containers
You are legally able to store up to 20 litres in metal cans, meaning you can have up to two 10-litre metal fuel containers.

In total you can store up to 30-litres of petrol at home by using two 10-litre petrol cans in combination with two 5-litre plastic containers. The fuel in your lawnmower or other petrol garden machinery also counts toward this storage limit.

What has changed?

On October 1st 2014 the Petroleum Consolidation Regulations 2014 was bought into effect which requires petrol cans to be fitted with a safety spout adaptor which is designed to prevent overfilling and the ignition of petrol vapour inside the spout and container.

This will affect work places which store petrol where petrol is dispensed as well as non-work place premises storing petrol (such as private homes, clubs or associations). There is grace period of over one year where non-compliant products can still be manufactured and sold, but after this all products must comply.