What To Do In The Event Of A Vehicle Fire
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Not many occurrences are more terrifying than fires. Fires can become very dangerous and all-consuming in a very short amount of time. Even from a distance a fire is an impressive and scary natural phenomenon. One of the few times this self-sustaining chemical reaction can be even more dangerous is when someone is in close proximity with the possibility of entrapment. A vehicle fire can easily become such a scenario if the occupants do not know how to handle the situation.
Recognition is the first step in reacting to a vehicle fire. Odors may be a good indicator of impeding danger. If the vehicle has a burning or uncommon smell coming from any area on the vehicle, a fire may be soon to follow. The vehicle may have an electrical-like odor, an odor like burning plastic, a gasoline or oil smell, or no odor at all. The second sign is smoke. Whatever the color, smoke is not normally a welcome sight coming from any part of the vehicle. And third, fire is hot. A noticeable increase in temperature may also be a bad sign.
Once a fire is suspected or confirmed and conditions allow, the first step should be to pull to the right side of the road or shoulder. Stopping the vehicle is a crucial step to avoid further damage. Much like someone may fan a flame when trying to light a fire, the rushing wind from the motion of the vehicle can feed the flame and cause rapid growth. Once pulled over, the engine should be shut off. This will help begin the cooling process of the ignition source, as well as make the situation safer for responding personnel. Third, and most importantly, all occupants should exit the vehicle and find a safe area to stay. Remaining in this place should make occupant accountability a simpler task. Finally, occupants should call 911 and await responders. Of course, the best case scenario in regards to car fires is preventing them in the first place. This can be aided by following a regular maintenance schedule and avoiding mistakes such as spilling oil on the engine or not tightening caps.
Finally, it is not advised for a layperson to try to extinguish the fire. Smoke and toxic fumes can easily overcome a person not utilizing the proper breathing apparatus—even when outside. Additionally, gas shock absorbers, gas struts, airbags, and tires have been known to explode and seriously injure or kill even trained professionals. Hybrid and electric cars also pose an increased risk of danger and should be left to those with the right training and equipment.
Lawrence has been working with cars since his childhood, and is an expert on the subject. He also works for a company that purchases vehicles.