Since the boom of cell phones, my informant’s dad has been telling her to take precaution and not to use her cell phone when filling up at the gas station. As a very informed physicist, Dr. Loo is always up to date with new information that he reads in the paper and on the Internet. He passes on any information that he believes his daughter must know. This urban legend is one of the few pieces of information that she actually attempts to remember because it actually affects her when she thinks about using a cell phone.
My informant, a very cautious teenager, never takes too many precautions. She believes in any information that could have any element of truth, even if it’s not likely. Whenever she goes to the gas station with a group of friends, she never lets a friend use a cell phone while at the station even if the person who wants to use his or her cell phone isn’t the one filling up the car.
She spreads this legend around because she thinks it’s possible, but not entirely true. She believes that it’s a safety issue, so people can never be too safe. The reason she tells people to avoid using cell phones at gas stations is to let them know the possibilities of danger. She doesn’t want her friends to die at the gas station over a silly cell phone call.
I believe that this urban legend is in fact realistic. It makes sense that cell phones can be a danger at gas stations. According to a CNN article published in 1999, “a cell phone’s battery could spark and ignite gasoline fumes if the cell phone were dropped in proximity to a gas pump.” Just the possibility that dropping a cell phone near a pump could cause a spark is enough information to say that using cell phones at gas stations is dangerous. Because people are so busy with so many places to go, they tend to be more impatient, which sometimes make them more clumsy and careless. They try to do several things at once, like filling up and talking on the phone at the same time. There’s a risk of accidentally dropping cell phones, which relates to the legend. Even cell phone manuals are taking caution and warning people to switch cell phones off when refueling. The Nokia 6133 User Guide states to switch cell phones off at refueling points. If cell phone manufacturers are warning the public that using cell phones at gas stations is a potential hazard, then I believe that this urban legend is definitely legitimate.
“Exxon warns dealers of cell phone risks.” CNN.com 24 June 1999. 19 Feb 2007 <http://www.cnn.com/US/9906/24/exxon.cellphones/index.html>.