What To Do When Your Car Catches Fire

Vehhicle fires are one of the scariest things that can happen on the road – and they happen more often than you think. Watching your vehicle burn by the side of the road is an experience you don’t want to go through. Here are a few common-sense tips that can help prevent vehicle fires.

Preventing A Fire

First, have your car serviced regularly according to the schedule recommended by its manufacturer. When adding oil, use a funnel and check carefully for spills, as spilled or leaking oil can start a fire under the hood. If you have a fueling station attendant who can help, add oil, check to make sure that the cap is replaced securely. It may sound pedantic, but mistakes happen; a missing cap could easily result in a fire. Make sure that checks of the electrical and fuel systems, the two most common causes of fires, are included in your service schedule. If you notice that fuses blow repeatedly, make sure to have this problem checked; it could indicate a more serious electrical issue.

Responding To A Fire

While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, sometimes the cure is necessary. If you notice smoke, fire, or a burning smell while driving, stop immediately. While in many instances smoke will not actually be the result of a fire, it nonetheless indicates a serious problem. Also pay attention to your gauges while driving; if the car begins to overheat, pull over and allow the engine to cool before more serious problems develops.

Stop as soon as you notice a problem and immediately turn off the car. If possible, pull over in a safe place first; however, driving will provide additional air to the fire, fanning the flames. If there is a large amount of smoke or you can actually see the fire, stop where you are. Other cars will go out of their way to avoid a burning car.

Get all passengers out of the car and make sure everyone moves far away from the vehicle. Car explosions are rare; the explosions you see in movies are triggered by explosives, not by an exploding gas tank. Still, they can happen. Additionally, burning oil and plastics give off toxic fumes. Make sure you have moved far enough away so as not to inhale these. Warn others near you or passing by to give the car a wide berth.

Putting Out The Fire

First, remember that it is more important to save lives than to save your car. Make your own safety and the safety of your passengers your priority. Only try to put out the fire if you have the necessary equipment, skill, and knowledge to do so safely. This will be more effective if the fire is small; if it is already large by the time your escape the car, it’s better to call for help.

Don’t take chances, prepare by installing a fire extinguisher in your car (you can order for original fire extinguisher HERE). This should be a class ABC extinguisher (meaning it can put out any kind of fire) and should weigh at least three kilograms. Make sure this extinguisher is within reach of the driver’s seat (i.e. somewhere in the passenger compartment) and that you know how to use it.

If you can, grab the extinguisher as you exit the car. If the fire is under the hood, pop the hood but do not open it fully, as the sudden influx of air could turn a small fire into a big one. Spray through the opening with the fire extinguisher. If inside the car, leave one door open and spray accordingly. If the fire is near the rear of the car, i.e. close to the fuel tank, move away from the car quickly and warn others to do the same.

Finally, remember that fire damage is covered by comprehensive insurance policies. Because assessing fires can be a lengthy process, make sure to notify your insurance company of the fire as soon as possible. In case you do not have a proper insurance cover for your car, get affordable car insurance HERE.

The most important thing is to remain calm, think quickly and clearly, and put people before possessions.

About Nonso Okafor

I've worked as a technical support representative in major auto centers in Nigeria for more than twenty years. I have dealt with a variety of problems in my capacity as a customer service representative and auto diagnostics expert. I'm committed to assisting people in properly maintaining their automobiles and in appreciating this magnificent innovation known as an automobile.

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