Loss Control Safety Techniques

Vehicle Fires

Having an accident or breaking down along the side of the highway, are among the more common situations we may experience during our lifetime of driving a vehicle. One issue we may never anticipate, however, is being inside or near a vehicle that has caught fire. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of vehicle fires occur each year, many times leaving those involved panicked because they are unsure of how to react. If a fire does occur in your vehicle, it is very important to understand the primary priority is the safety of you and other patrons traveling with you. Please take time to review the following vehicle fire safety tips:

• Exit the vehicle as soon as possible. If you are traveling with anyone, make sure they can safely exit the vehicle as well. Children and the elderly may have a difficult time exiting, so keep this in mind. After everyone is out safely, move as far away from the vehicle as possible. Do not waste time grabbing personal belongings.

• Call 911 before you try to put the fire out yourself. Try to remain calm. The dispatcher you reach when placing this call will need to know if anyone is injured or in danger. The dispatcher will give you instructions on what to do next.

• Never try to fight a fire yourself. Vehicle fires are particularly difficult because there can be a significant amount of gas in the vehicle’s tank. If the fire comes in contact with the gas, an explosion could occur.

• If you are experiencing an engine fire, and all you see is smoke coming out from under the hood, do not open the hood. This will allow oxygen to fuel the fire. Turn the ignition off to stop the electrical currents and flow of gas.

Vehicle fires may be caused by a host of different sources. There are, however, preventative measures we can take to avoid a potentially dangerous situation:

• Avoid smoking inside the vehicle. If you choose to, or allow others to, use the ashtray inside the vehicle to ash.

• Regular vehicle maintenance can help identify any problem issues your vehicle may have. If you notice any fluids

leaking, irregular noises, or exposed wiring in or outside the vehicle, have a certified mechanic examine the issue.

• Check the dashboard gauges for any "Check Engine" lights, unusual gauge readings, or any other irregularities.

Contact a certified mechanic if you experience any of these.

• If you live in a warmer climate, get in the habit of parking in the shade. Make sure you don’t have any flammable

liquids or materials inside the vehicle which may easily catch fire. A hot sun can ignite these materials, leading to a fire.

• Keep a small fire extinguisher in the vehicle. Knowing how to use it effectively is just as important as having it readily available. Only use the extinguisher if the fire is smoldering and very small.

Being prepared for a vehicle fire is very important. Most believe an incident like this will never happen to them, but they are more common than what we think. Take into consideration the preventative measures we have provided and the likelihood of a vehicle fire happening to you will be drastically reduced. Always remember, leave the fire-fighting to a trained professional.

Posted 11:20 AM

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