Enhancing Your Safety While Getting Gas

Gas station after dark with lights onPin

Filling up your gas tank is a routine task, but it comes with its own set of risks. Whether you’re in a bustling city or a quiet town, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and take steps to ensure your safety. Here are some practical strategies to help you stay safe while getting gas.

Minimize Time in the ‘Kill Zone’

The area between your car and the gas pump is often referred to as the ‘kill zone.’ It’s a confined space where your movement is restricted, and your visibility is limited, making you more vulnerable to potential threats. Here are some tips to minimize your time in this vulnerable position:

  • Be Efficient: Only stay between your car and the pump long enough to swipe your card, insert the pump into the tank, and then to remove it once you’re done. The less time you spend in this confined area, the better.
  • Stay Alert: Keep your head on a swivel. Be aware of your surroundings and any approaching individuals or vehicles.

Stand Behind Your Car

One effective strategy is to position yourself behind your car while the gas is pumping. This approach offers several benefits:

  • Improved Visibility: Standing behind your car gives you a clear view of both sides of the vehicle. This increased visibility allows you to monitor the area for any unusual activity or potential threats.
  • Room to Maneuver: By staying behind your car, you have more space to move quickly if necessary. If you spot danger, you can easily retreat to a safer location.
  • Barrier Protection: Your car acts as a physical barrier between you and anyone approaching from the front, providing an additional layer of protection.

Stand in Front of Your Car

Another viable option is to stand in front of your car while the gas pumps. This position offers similar benefits to standing behind the car:

  • Clear View: Standing in front gives you a clear view of both sides of your vehicle, enhancing your ability to spot potential threats.
  • Escape Route: You have more room to move and can quickly retreat if you sense danger approaching from behind.
  • Barrier Advantage: Your car serves as a barrier between you and any threats approaching from the rear.

Choosing whether to stand in front or behind your car depends on various factors, including vehicle traffic at the gas station, foot traffic near the store, and which position offers the best vantage point.

Position on the Opposite Side of Your Car

Another strategic position is to stand on the opposite side of your car from the gas pump. This placement provides several advantages:

  • Maximized Visibility: Being on the opposite side of your car gives you a broad view of the entire area, allowing you to keep an eye on everything happening around you.
  • Avoid Intruders: Staying on the side opposite the pump makes it less likely that someone will attempt to enter your car from that side while you’re occupied.
  • Traffic Awareness: Ensure you are aware of passing vehicles and foot traffic. This position gives you a comprehensive view of your surroundings, helping you stay alert to any potential hazards.

Getting Gas in Gas Cans

Leave open space around you when you need to put gas in cans.

For those of us who still take care of our own lawns, for example, we have to get gas for our small engines; and we need to exercise caution while at the gas pump.

As we have talked about in this post, wedging yourself between the pump and your vehicle is not good as you have created a choke point for yourself.

Pull forward just a bit more or do not pull all the way forward so as to leave yourself some room to be able to see around and not be quite so hidden from others.

When filling your gas cans, remain alert and be sure to keep looking around. Complete the task as quickly as possible so as not to remain in a less than optimal position (usually bent over or leaning or kneeling down). Staying bent down prevents you from being able to more easily keep an eye on what is going on around you.

Additional Safety Tips

Here are some additional tips to enhance your safety while getting gas:

  • Turn Off Your Engine: When you are at the pump getting gas, turn off your engine. This should be for obvious reasons; but I am always surprised how many folks still leave their vehicles running.
  • Do Not Smoke: Do not smoke while at the gas pump. Again, seemingly a no-brainer for most, but there are those few that just have not gotten it figured out. Don’t worry though. It only takes one time.
  • Stay Off Your Phone: Avoid distractions like texting or browsing social media while at the pump. Staying alert is crucial for your safety.
  • Lock Your Car: Even if you’re only a few feet away, make sure to lock your car doors while you’re pumping gas. This simple step can prevent someone from entering your vehicle and taking your belongings.
  • Keep Your Keys Handy: Always have your keys in hand and be ready to get back into your car quickly if needed. Do not make it easy by leaving your keys in your vehicle.
  • Spot Check Your Vehicle: Use this time to walk around your car and check for any issues like low tire pressure, dings, or scratches. This can help you stay aware of your car’s condition and address any maintenance needs promptly.
  • Choose Well-Lit Stations: Whenever possible, choose gas stations that are well-lit and busy. These factors can act as deterrents to potential criminals.
  • Stay Close to the Pump: Although you should avoid the confined space between your car and the pump, staying reasonably close to the pump ensures you can quickly remove the nozzle and replace it if needed.
  • Be Mindful of Traffic: Pay attention to the flow of traffic within the gas station. Ensure you are not standing in a position where you could be accidentally hit by a vehicle entering or leaving the station.
  • Daylight: Have a plan and go to get gas while it is still light out, especially if you are alone. You should not run your gas all the way down anyway, so plan ahead and work to get gas during daylight hours.


Staying safe while getting gas requires a combination of situational awareness, strategic positioning, and common sense. By minimizing your time in the vulnerable space between your car and the pump, standing in positions that maximize your visibility, and following basic safety tips, you can significantly reduce your risk of encountering problems at a gas station.

Remember, nothing can guarantee your safety 100%, but taking these precautions can make it much harder for anyone with bad intentions to succeed. Always stay alert, be aware of your surroundings, and use your car as a barrier to protect yourself. Your safety is paramount, and with these strategies, you can make the routine task of filling up your tank a much safer experience.

laptop, phone, notepad, and cup of coffeePin

Read other OwnGuard Solutions blog posts

Read our other posts centered around being safer and better prepared.

Share with your friends and family!