Millions of Americans have portable gas cans and use them for a variety of reasons. Recent reports show that these portable gas cans may pose a very real, serious explosion hazard and cause serious injuries, and even fatalities. *Source: www.todayshow.com
Part 1 of this blog discussed the recent media report investigating the gas cans’ dangerous explosion risk and the dangerous products lawsuits that have stemmed from the explosion accidents.
Part 2 of this blog will discuss when portable gas can explosions may occur according to the lab tests and the easy fix manufacturers should consider to reduce the risk of explosions.
Lab tests have shown that under certain limited conditions, the gas cans will explode due to a certain concentration of gas vapor mixtures inside the can, also called “flashback” explosions. The explosions happen when temperatures are cool, only a few teaspoons of gasoline are left in the can and when the consumer is tilting the can at a 42 degree angle to get the gasoline out.
The tests show that a flashback explosion can occur inside a plastic gas can when gas vapor escaping the can contacts a source of ignition, such as a flame or a spark. The vapor outside the container can ignite and "flash back" inside the can. When it goes back in the can, the gas can will ignite and explode if the gas/air vapor mixture inside is of a certain concentration.
In a typical dangerous products liability case, the manufacturer will be responsible for a consumer’s injuries if the design of the product was dangerous or unsafe. In other words, the consumer product would not be dangerous if it contained an additional part that could eliminate the danger.
Related: Pennsylvania Products Liability Law
According to the report, the flame arrest technology can be installed at the openings of portable gas cans to prevent the vapor and flames outside the container to flash back into the cans and cause explosions. It is a simple metal mesh that can be placed at the openings of the gas cans. Currently, some charcoal lighter fluid cans have flame arresters, as well as bottles of rum.
So the questions is, why not put this simple fix on all the portable gas cans? The industry says that it is studying the issue, and when it is determined that it will make the can safer, the flame arrester technology will be added. However, according to the report, the industry has been studying the issue for 6 years now. How many more unnecessary deaths and injuries need to occur before the arresters will be installed?
It certainly seems that injured consumers/plaintiffs can argue that manufacturers are liable for their injuries because the manufacturers have known about flame arresters, an easy fix, for a while now but still did nothing to fix the problem. If in fact these explosions are happening under certain limited conditions, why not just put the flame arresters on? Why would the industry need 6 years to conduct its research and study to determine its safety?
If you were injured by a dangerous or unsafe consumer product, you may have a valid products liability claim against the manufacturer and/or seller. Dangerous products cases are very complex, and it is important to speak to a personal injury lawyer who has experience in handling products liability cases. Dan O’Brien, Esq. has helped many consumers injured by dangerous products in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Call today for a free initial consultation. 877.944.8396
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