Money

Gas Prices Are Soaring, but No Shortage Yet. Here's What to Do (and Not Do)

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused fuel prices to skyrocket, but that doesn't mean you should panic-buy or hoard.

Gas prices are at a record high.
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Gas prices last week hit an all-time high of $4.33 per gallon, breaking the 2008 record high of $4.11 per gallon when the US was in a recession. It's now sitting at a steady $4.32 per gallon as oil prices have fallen a bit, but it's unclear what's ahead.

Do higher prices mean the US is experiencing a gas or oil shortage? No. Gas prices are soaring due to the market turmoil caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including President Joe Biden's banning oil and gas imports from Russia.

The steady climb of prices at the pump could spur people into panic-buying and stocking up on fuel to avoid paying more in the future. We'll tell you what you should and shouldn't do -- and why. 

What you should do

As gas prices continue to soar, here are some things you might want to try:

  • Use GasBuddy to find gas stations with the best fuel prices, and check out all the ways you can save on gas.
  • See if you can work from home so you're not commuting. If that's not an option, share a ride with a co-worker or use public transportation.
  • If you have errands to run throughout the day, plan your route so that you're not driving back and forth across town.
  • Drive your most fuel-efficient car -- take the sedan instead of the truck.
  • If you have a road trip planned, consider rescheduling it.

What you shouldn't do

Don't fill plastic bags with gas

Have you ever seen anyone fill a plastic bag with gasoline? It isn't safe. Last year, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission warned people on Twitter to only use containers approved for fuel.

Gasoline can melt through some plastics within minutes and if it gets on your skin it can cause irritation and even burn it. Also, if you inhale the fumes, your lungs may deteriorate over time. If accidentally swallowed it can impact your vital organs, such as your eyes, and cause burning in the esophagus. Seek medical attention immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

The safest alternatives for storing your gas include safety cans with funnel spouts, according to the National Agricultural Safety Database. The organization says to look for gas cans that are labeled "Underwriters Laboratories" or "Factory Mutual approved."

Don't store gasoline inside your home or car

Now that you know what to put your gas in, it's time to know where to store it. You never want to leave gas inside your car or home for an extended amount of time. Instead, store it in a well-ventilated spot, away from your house and any electrical equipment. 

Since gasoline is a flammable liquid, you'll want to keep it stored at room temperature and away from the sun, the American Petroleum Institute says. That could be in a garage or a shed.

Don't buy gasoline to sell for an even higher price

The last thing you want to do during an emergency is to take advantage of others in need: Don't buy gas at its current price and try to upsell it in the future. You'll get into serious trouble with the law. At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, people were arrested for price gouging hand sanitizer, toilet paper and other necessities. 

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Storing gasoline in bags can be dangerous.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Don't hoard gasoline from your local station

Many are concerned that gas prices will continue to rise every day. As a result, they may try to stock up on gas at the current price to avoid paying more tomorrow. However, by buying gas now, you're only spending more of your money. Plus, panic-buying and hoarding gas can lead to even higher gas prices.

For more information about what's going on, here's more about the record gas hikes at the pump and why you're paying more. In addition, inflation has risen by 7.9%, hitting a 40-year high for food, rent and gas.