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What Do You Do if You Spill Gasoline?

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Gas can

A recent story out of Minnesota reported that a fire severely burned two young children after they accidentally knocked over a gas can and, being the good kids they were, tried to clean it up using an electric wet/dry vacuum cleaner (the sheriff’s office called it a Shop-Vac). This set the liquid ablaze. Both children went to the hospital with second-degree burns.

When reading this awful tale, I tried to think of the safe way to clean up the spill, and suddenly realized that I have no clue what it is. So, in the interests of educating myself and preventing accidental fires, I looked into it.

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Basically, cleaning up gasoline seems to mostly be a matter of soaking it up. Most people recommend using cat litter (although Good Housekeeping specifies “clay-type” cat litter, like you would use for kittens). Home improvement publication Hunker says to leave it on there for an hour or two to absorb all of the liquid, and then sweep it up.

Of course, this leaves you standing there with a bag full of gasoline-soaked cat litter. How to get rid of it pretty much depends on where you live, as the rules vary by state.

The litter should take care of just about all of the spill. If odors remain, you can mix up baking soda and water and spread the paste on the spill location, or the same thing with dishwasher detergent. Let it dry some, then rinse.

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The bottom line, though, is not to use any electric appliances or things that create heat. Just cat litter, a broom, a dustpan, and maybe some baking soda or dishwashing detergent should be all you need.

News Source: Good Housekeeping, Hunker, Star Tribune