Ever see those scenes in movies where there are explosions and fires from a car? It can get pretty real if you don’t take the cautionary steps to prevent it from happening. Two of the most common vehicle fires come from a mechanical or electrical failure and here is what you should look out for.
During summer, the months of June, July, and August are said to have the most incidents. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, in 2012, there were over one million fires reported in the United States. Of those, 172, 450 were related to vehicle fires that resulted in $1.3 billion in property damages, 800 civilian injuries and 300 civilian deaths. On average, it takes about four minutes for fire to reach the passenger compartment and there is a report written every 156 seconds.
If you want to avoid a vehicle fire, take these precautions:
- Do NOT smoke in your car
- Do NOT leave flammables in your car (e.g. gasoline, explosives, lighter fluid, aerosol cans, nail polish, alcohol, etc.)
- Scan the area for fire hazards like downed power lines or storm damages to infrastructure
- Limit reckless driving
- Check for damaged or loose wiring
- Check for oil or fuel leaks
- Maintain your car battery
- Respond immediately when a strange odor (e.g. gasoline, burning rubber, burning plastic), smoke or flames are present. A clear indication is if it comes from under the hood or wheel area.
If you find yourself already in the midst of a fire, follow these steps:
- Move to the right and stop your car on the shoulder or breakdown lane
- Turn off the engine
- Exit the vehicle
- Warn others to stay away
- Notify the fire department or call 911