What To Do If Your Vehicle Catches on Fire
| Feb 22, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Car fires don’t happen
frequently, but when they do, they’re a potentially deadly emergency. According
to figures from the National Fire Prevention Association, fire fighters
responded to more than 200,000 car fires in 2010-and car fires killed 285 people
that same year. Knowing what to do can help prevent injuries or even save
Act fast when a fire breaks out
If you smell smoke or
see flames coming from your car while you’re driving, it’s important to remain
calm-but act quickly. Recognize that car fires can break out in places other
than the engine compartment. They also can occur under the vehicle, near the
wheels and brakes, in your dashboard, and even inside the car. In fact, interior
fires can be among the most frightening because of your close proximity to the
flames, fumes, and smoke.
The National Safety Council recommends
following these steps if you’re driving and a fire starts:
· Signal, and
immediately move to the closest safe place to stop, whether that’s a side lane
or a median.
· Stop the car and turn off the ignition.
· Get every
person out of the car, and don’t allow anyone to go back to retrieve personal
· Move far from the burning vehicle to avoid the flames and toxic
fumes-at least 100 feet-and also keep bystanders back.
· Alert oncoming traffic if possible.
It’s generally not
recommended that you try to put out the fire yourself. Opening the hood or car
doors increases the air supply and may accelerate the fire. Once the fire has
been put out, contact your insurance agent. If possible, take photos of the
damage, and collect the names and phone numbers of witnesses. Ask the
firefighters when and if it is safe to remove personal items from the vehicle.
Have it towed to a repair shop for an inspection before attempting to operate it
Ways to help prevent vehicle fires
While some car fires occur
in collisions, they are more often caused by problems with a vehicle’s
electrical or fuel system. Your best line of defense is to have these systems
checked out at every service call. In between times, look for these potential
· Fuses that blow repeatedly
· Spilled oil under the
hood left over from an oil change
· Oil or other fluid leaks under the
· Cracked or loose wiring, or wiring with exposed metal
Very loud sounds from the exhaust system
· Rapid changes in fuel level,
oil levels, or engine temperature
· A missing cap from the oil
· Broken or loose hoses
These suggestions are not a
complete list of every loss-control measure. The information is not intended to
replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a
qualified professional. While a vehicle fire is an unfortunate event for anyone
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