To be safe around aircraft fuel, pay attention to detail.
Recently, a Soldier’s arm and legs got soaked with fuel that gushed out of an open cap during a preflight inspection. He returned to the locker room to change, but static electricity from his winter underwear ignited the fumes.
Outer clothing builds a charge when rubbing against the body and underwear. The electrical tension created when you remove those clothes can increase to the point where fuel-soaked clothes can burst into flames when removed.
You must also be careful with worn shoes. If the soles have exposed nails, a spark against the ground can ignite spilled fuel. Even the vapors near the ground can ignite!
Static electricity builds up whether your clothing is pure cotton or a synthetic blend. And temperature and humidity can affect static buildup, too.
If your clothing gets wet from fuel, take no chances! Leave the refueling area immediately and soak the clothing with water before removal. If there’s not enough water available, hold onto a piece of grounded equipment before removing the fuel-soaked clothing.
Stay up-to-date on static electricity by referring to TM 5-811-3 (Mar 85), Electrical Design: Lightning and Static Electricity Protection.