Safety Lessons from the Gas Pump

So, I stopped by the local gas mart to pay an arm and a leg to fill up the SUV today and, as I was pumping the gas a couple of general safety tips came to mind that I thought I would share.

The guy in the car behind me pulled up as close to my bumper as he could and then had to back up to leave when he was finished.   This reminded me of a tip I learned from my friend Jack Simons, the CEO and Director of Training at Springs Road Gun Club in Hickory, North Carolina.

Later, as I was pumping gas, I was approached by a man I had never seen before. It turned out he was simply headed to the convenience store, but his chosen path from his car to the store had him coming almost directly toward me. Naturally, I kept an eye on him as he made his way in my direction. The pump was on my left, my car on the right. The fuel hose stretched behind me from the pump to my car. Suddenly I realized that if this stranger approached me, and I needed to retreat, the hose would have tripped me. So I carefully stepped across the hose, putting it between me and the approaching stranger.

Lesson one: Always make sure that you can see the rear tires of the car ahead of you.  If you can, you should have enough room to pull out in an emergency. This is a good habit to get into wherever you are driving. Stopped at a light or stop sign, in the drive through at the local fast food joint or pharmacy window. Leave yourself enough room should you need to leave quickly. One technique used by car-jackers is to bump you from behind, blocking you between their car and the one ahead. Without room to escape, you would be a sitting duck. Leaving yourself some extra space between you and the car ahead will give your room to pull out and drive away.

Lesson Two: Pay attention to your surroundings when you are outside the vehicle. Is there a car behind you? What's on the other side of the pump? If you have family members in the car, do you lock the doors while you pump gas? Do you lock it when you are alone? When you pump gas, do you lock the handle in place so you have both hands free, or do you keep one on the nozzle? When you have a hand on the nozzle, which one do you use? Strong hand (pistol hand) or weak/support hand?

In both of today's lessons, then, the moral is to be aware of your surroundings and leave yourself room to retreat to a defensible position or to escape completely.