Scanning QR Codes At The Pump: Risky Or Safe?
I hit up Sam's Club in Lansing for gas on the way to work this morning. I discovered Scan-and-Go about a year ago, and haven't swiped my card at a pump since.
As I filled up, I found myself looking at all the signs plastered on the pump--the specials, the inspection stickers, the accepted payment types. I couldn't help but chuckle when I noticed the two signs that contradicted themselves.
Ever since cell phones became part of our lives, there have been signs posted at our local gas stations warning us to turn our phones off and leave them in the car when fueling up, citing the danger of sparking an explosion.
Now, those same ominous signs are plastered on the same pumps alongside invitations to use our phones to scan a QR code to pay for our gas!
We've all heard the friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend stories, but according to multiple sources including major phone companies, petroleum producers and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there has never been a documented case of a fire being ignited by someone's cell phone at the gas pump. The TV show Mythbusters even tried to make it happen, but couldn't.
So, does that mean it's safe to use your phone to scan a QR code at the pump? As long as you're smart about it.
Further investigations of fires once thought to have been started by cell phone use at the gas pump have revealed that static electricity caused by another action was to blame. Most often, getting in and out of the car while re-fueling is the culprit. When you get out of your car, especially in colder months when static electricity becomes more of an issue, touch metal somewhere on the vehicle before ever touching the gas nozzle. This will discharge any built-up static electricity. Avoid getting back into your car during re-fueling if possible. If for some reason you have to, be sure to repeat the discharge process before touching the nozzle again.