The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that vehicle fires account for about 20% of all reported fires. In the US, on average, 17 automobile fires were reported per hour. These fires killed an average of four people every week, so it’s very important to know how to reduce the risk of your own car or truck catching fire.
There’s rarely a single cause for any given car fire, but rather a combination of causes: human causes, mechanical causes, and chemical causes, and they all work together to create an incredibly dangerous situation. No matter the causes that lead to the fire, once a vehicle is ablaze, follow these steps to get yourself to safety:
- Pull over as quickly as it is safe to do so, be sure to use your signal as you make your way to a safe location off the road such as the shoulder or rest stop.
- Once you have stopped, TURN OFF the engine.
- GET everyone out of the car. Never return to a burning car for anything.
- MOVE everyone at least 100 feet from the burning car and well away from traffic.
- CALL 9-1-1.
You can prevent a car fire by following these recommendations:
- Have your car serviced regularly by a professionally trained mechanic. If you spot leaks, your car is not running properly, so get it checked. A well-maintained car is less likely to catch fire.
- Always have a fire extinguisher in your car and make sure all the passengers know how to use it.
- If you must transport gasoline, transport only a small amount in a certified gas can that is sealed.
- Gas cans and propane cylinders should never be transported in the passenger compartment.
- Never park a car where flammables, such as grass, are touching the catalytic converter.
- Drive safely to avoid an accident.
- Be extremely attentive observing the following danger signs: cracked or loose wiring or electrical problems (including a fuse that blows more than once), oil or fluid leaks, oil cap not on securely, rapid changes in fuel or fluid level, or engine temperature.
When a fire happens, there is no more time for planning. Act today, be prepared!
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