Things Businesses (and Their Customers) Should Do to Flatten the Curve
It’s completely understandable that people are having some discomfort operating a fuel dispenser during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Just like door handles, hand railings or elevator buttons, they get touched by many people over a short period of time. They are required contact points, just like any other public surface. And just like most public surfaces, there are some new rules in play.
For peace of mind, the general public should know that convenience stores and gas stations are taking extraordinary measures to keep people safe while they visit these essential businesses. In fact, there is a lot of media attention surrounding the incredible response from C-stores helping their communities in this difficult time. Some are even offering full service to limit public contact with dispensers and curbside pick-up among other things.
But the fact remains, we are all in this together. In order to flatten the curve and defeat the virus, we must all do our part.
Advice for Retailers:
There are many recommendations on solutions for cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces, but some chemicals are too harsh and can damage fuel dispensers. Ammonia-based cleaners weaken and damage bezel doors, screens, and other vital dispenser components.
Consumer Reports also advises against using ammonia-based solutions.
We suggest using either of these two methods, as recommended by the CDC.
- Preferred Method: Clean the dispenser with soap and water and disinfect by wiping 70% isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol) on the dispenser.
- Do not spray it on, make sure to leave it on for at least 20 seconds and then rinse with water using a bucket and a sponge – never use a pressure washer or sprayer.
- Alternate Method (If preferred method above is not possible): Clean the dispenser with soap and water and disinfect by wiping a bleach solution (directions below) on the dispenser.
- Do not spray it on, then rinse with water using a bucket and a sponge – never use a pressure washer or sprayer.
- Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
- 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
- If the bleach to water ratio is greater than this, damage to the dispenser may occur
Other cleaning considerations for retailers:
- Do not use fuels, acetone or other types of alcohol (such as ethanol)
- Do not use any cleaner or polish with a citrus element
- Do not use cleaners containing ammonia, sodium hydroxide or acids. Things like glass cleaner contain ammonia and will cause damage to dispensers
- Do not use strong solvents
- Do not spray any cleaner or water into the card reader, receipt printer, cash acceptor or displays
Advice for Consumer:
Using a gas pump is no different than opening a freezer door at the grocery store. Businesses are taking unprecedented steps to make their businesses safe for consumers. Still, people operating gas pumps should exercise caution, giving them similar treatment to a grocery store shopping cart.
- If possible, wipe the nozzle handle, buttons and keypads with a sanitizing cloth.
- During the pandemic, wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If this isn’t possible, use hand sanitizer after operating a gas pump.
Some people have found some creative solutions to deal with touching the nozzle.
Gloves are expensive and in short supply. Dog poop bags are super cheap and great for putting over your hand for opening doors or to cover the gas pump handle. Also readily available. pic.twitter.com/ijxEV1cv0R— JenAlmostZenHeathen (This is not normal) (@liberal_parnell) March 24, 2020
We want to thank all the people on the front lines of this essential industry, keeping businesses – and the world – running as normally as possible. Retailers, large and small, are stepping up to serve their communities in new and creative ways.
And while nothing about this situation is convenient, it does highlight the critical role convenience stores play and will continue to play in our global society.