Fuel Storage and UseIf you use petrol or diesel driven lawn mowers or other fuel driven gardening tools and need to store the fuel, you need to pay close attention as petrol and petrol vapour, in particular, are extremely flammable and must be treated with caution.

What the Law Says

Keeping fuel at home is restricted by UK law to either metal containers with a maximum capacity of 10 litres or approved plastic containers with a maximum 5 litre capacity. These containers should be designed for this sole purpose and must be fitted with a screw cap or some other form of secured closing mechanism to prevent leakage of liquid or vapour.

Keeping petrol and diesel fuel at home has a restriction of no more than two 10 litre metal containers or two 5 litre plastic containers per household and they must be clearly labelled as to their contents.

The fuel cannot be stored in living accommodation such as in kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms or bedrooms nor can it be stored underneath the stairs. Suitable storage areas are the garage or shed and the location must be secured to protect against the possibility of vandalism or arson.

People who have a genuine need to store larger quantities of fuel need to obtain a licence and to notify the appropriate authority which will either be your local council’s Environmental Health Department or the Health & Safety Executive.

Safe Use of Fuel at Home

When fuel is being transferred from a container into a lawn mower or other type of petrol driven gardening tool, you must follow some basic health and safety precautions as follows:

  • Do not smoke
  • Do not pour fuel where there is any naked flame in the vicinity
  • Transfer the fuel in the open air – not in the shed or garage
  • Use a pouring spout or funnel
  • If you get fuel on your clothing, change it immediately

Take care when filling up the equipment. Spillages or leaks pose a number of hazards so do not overfill the equipment and make sure that the cap on the tank of the equipment you’re using is screwed tightly and not leaking. Do not fill to the brim as fuel expands and vapour can build up in hot weather. Follow the same guidelines with the storage containers themselves, i.e. they should not be overfilled and should be securely fastened during transit to prevent them from falling over or leaking. Also, make sure that the containers are kept locked away from children, are clearly marked with what they contain and that children fully understand the inherent dangers associated with fuel and be left in no doubt that they should not go near it.

Health Risks

Petrol vapour can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat and exposure to high concentrations, particularly in confined spaces, can cause dizziness and even unconsciousness. Most importantly, do not swallow petrol or diesel and never attempt to use your mouth to siphon it under any circumstances. This can result in it entering the lungs or stomach which can be fatal.