When a disaster threatens a given area, fuel is one of the first emergency prep items people begin stocking up on. Having fuel on hand for given disasters helps maintain your regular lifestyle when power is interrupted. More importantly, having additional fuel can also assist in providing your basic needs such as maintaining warmth, preparing food, providing power to electrical appliances, tools and powered equipment such as generators.
As important as this prep item is, storing fuel presents some very unique challenges. According to James Wesley Rawles, author of How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It , bulk fuel storage has three problematic issues: 1.) safety (fire hazard); 2.) security (odors that could attract robbers; and 3.) legality. Most urban fire codes would not allow you to have more than a week’s worth of propane on hand, and they completely prohibit keeping more than just one small container of kerosene or Coleman fuel. From the standpoint of both safety and minimizing detectable odors, propane is probably the best option. But of course consult both your local fire code and your apartment lease agreement to determine the maximum allowable quantity to keep on hand.
Be Prepared, But Be Safe
Fuel must be handled safely or severe injuries could occur. Those of you who live in apartments or duplexes will more than likely not be allowed to store any types of fuels in or around the buildings. Some fuels that are stored in large quantities, are illegal to store above ground; and must stored in pressurized tanks. Contacting fuel dealers that are in your local area can tell you what the EPA and regulatory issues associated with storing fuel in a tank on your property are, which fuels can be stored underground, where you can get above ground storage tanks, how you can get fuel delivered to your property, what safety considerations you would need to have in order to store fuel and whether or not you can purchase your fuel storage tanks or where to rent them.
To ensure maximum safety, follow these guidelines when storing fuel:
- Use a proper fuel container to store fuel in.
- Keep fuel dry.
- For safety reasons store fuel in an isolated area. Do not store fuel near your home or near appliances such as water tanks.
- Do not store fuel near ammunition.
- Store fuel downwind from any homes or buildings.
- Store fuel in a cool, dark area away from any sunlight or high temperature fluctuations.
- Rotate your fuel supply regularly.
- Have a fire extinguisher on hand in the area where the fuel is stored.
- Check the storage containers or tanks regularly to ensure that the fuel is safely stored away and that there are not any signs of leaking.
Stabilize Your Fuels for Maximum Results
Certain fuels will need stabilizers added to them in order to keep the fuel from going bad. Some of the most popular fuel stabilizers that preppers use are Sta-bil  and Pri-G or Pri-D . Both can be purchased online or at most super centers. Most preppers believe that if you are storing fuel for a short-term emergency, use Stabil. And if you are looking for storing fuel for the long-term, use Pri-G or Pri-D. The Pri products have been said to restore old fuel that has “gone bad.” Although I have never tried this, some preppers swear by the product. Pri products can also be used in kerosene fuels as well.
Store Fuel in Proper Storage Containers
If fuels are to be stored for emergencies, then it will need to be stored in containers that prevent evaporation and prevent the signs of fuel phase seperation. These days, most fuel containers are made of plastic. Ensure that the container is made of durable HDPE with barrier materials to eliminate hydrocarbon emissions, has an airtight seal to reduce spills when not in use and has a pour spout that controls variable flow, has automatic venting and automatic locking when lever is released. Plastic is permeable and the fuel can seep through, therefore, some preppers have found that metal fuel cans are best. Some preppers say the use auto grade silicone to coat their metal cans in order to preserve them longer.
Storing fuel to use for short or long-term disasters will ensure that you can meet your basic needs and maintain your lifestyle until your power comes back on. Following safety guidelines and correct storage procedures will ensure that your fuel storage will give you the best results when you need it the most.