Panic Buying Leads to Most Surreal Warning: Don’t Put Gas in Plastic Bags

Remember how we sad-laughed at the panic buying of early 2020 and the thought of all those supermarket shelves, suddenly empty of toilet paper, flour or pasta? That is an entirely new level of crazy—and dangerous, too.
Woman fills plastic bags with gasoline in 2019 viral video 1 photo
Photo: YouTube/Jason Rudison
Over the weekend, a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, the country’s largest pipeline, shut it down. Operations will resume in full this week, with the backed supplies believed to pick up again by early next week.

In other words, whatever shortage U.S. East Coast residents are experiencing right now isn’t about to last much longer. But that doesn't stop them from stocking on gas, using whatever containers they have, regardless of whether they’re suitable for the job or not.

We’ve seen behavior of this kind many times before, including in the days leading up to a major storm. The difference is that this time, some Americans may be using containers even more unsuitable for the job than plastic buckets—containers like plastic bags. Of the kind you get at a supermarket for your groceries.

Federal agency United States Consumer Product Safety Commission is taking it upon itself to warn consumers that storing gasoline in plastic bags is a very bad idea. We should “use only containers approved for fuel,” the USCPSC writes on Twitter. While this word of advice is common sense, the agency adds that people tend to lose some of that common sense, if not all, in a panic situation.

As The Drive points out, it’s actually happened before: in 2019, a video of a woman doing just that, filling up on gas using plastic bags, went viral.

Needless to say, storing gasoline should only be done in proper canisters. Using anything else is illegal and highly dangerous: gasoline gives off toxic fumes that are both highly inflammable and, well, toxic. Think of it as a swift, doubly deadly ninja: it can either set you on fire or intoxicate you.

It’s best not to mess with it.

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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