How Pumping Gas Puts You at Risk for Coronavirus

Photo by dean bertoncelj /

Every time you grab a pump handle at the gas station, you could be transferring germs from dozens of other drivers’ hands to your own skin.

Most of the year, you probably give that reality little thought. But the spread of the coronavirus should make you pause the next time you fill up your tank.

The coronavirus has been found to live for hours and even days on some surfaces. That means touching a gas pump — or a keypad to pay for your gasoline — could put you at risk for coming into contact with the coronavirus.

So, how can you stay safe? Most importantly, do not touch your face after filling up unless and until you have thoroughly washed your hands. We have tips for doing this correctly in “Beware These 7 Hand-Washing Mistakes.”

Consumer Reports recently offered a few more tips for steering clear of the coronavirus when you fill up. They include:

  • Wearing disposable nitrile or latex gloves when gripping pump handles and using keypads. CR notes that in a pinch, using a paper towel to cover your hand will provide some protection.
  • Using disinfectant wipes to wipe down pump handles and keypads before you use them.
  • Using hand sanitizer to clean your hands before getting back into the car.

Gabriel Shenhar, associate director of CR’s auto test program, says taking these steps can help keep you from coming into contact with germs — and transferring them to other surfaces or people:

“This process ensures that I’m not inadvertently transferring the virus from a high-touch surface like a gas pump to my vehicle’s door handle, and from there into the interior.”

Looking for more ways to avoid catching COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus? Check out:

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