Be prepared for car fires.
February 12, 2013barriehol
Sad as it may seem to some, I like to keep abreast of the fire incident statistics to make sure we can alert customers to any new trends in fire safety incidents. I was surprised to read that in the UK alone over 100,000 cars a year go up in flames, which equates to nearly 300 a day. The statistics also show around 100 people die as a result with many more injured. To be fair some 65% of car fires are started deliberately to cover criminal activity, be it theft, insurance fraud or just plain vandalism but that still leaves 35000 accidental car fires a year due to poor maintenance, unseen wear and tear and faulty electrics.
Modern cars have ever more sophisticated security devices resulting in a steady fall in the number of thefts but you can help yourself with a little common sense and forethought. Your insurers may be reluctant to foot the bill for your own negligence.
Vehicle fire safety is another matter and prevention boils down to diligent maintenance particularly on older cars. Over time electrical wiring insulation and fuel lines can become brittle and poorly maintained brakes can cause tyre fires. Make sure your garage checks these areas when they conduct the MOT. Don’t smoke in a car and don’t throw butts out of open windows. Sometimes they can blow back into the car.
Having fire response precautions to hand may save the car from destruction and could save lives. I would recommend just four in cab safety devices. A multipurpose ABC dry powder or foam fire extinguisher, a lifesaver hammer to break windows, a first aid kit with burn dressings and not least a mobile phone to call the emergency services.
If a fire does break out in your car you should be prepared to act quickly.
If possible switch off the engine.
Get everyone out of the vehicle.
If the fire is in the engine compartment release the bonnet catch but do not attempt to open.
If the fire is small and only it is safe to do so, try to put out the fire with the fire extinguisher by aiming the extinguisher nozzle through the radiator grille or under the raised edge of the bonnet.
Never use water on an engine fire – it can short out wiring and spread burning petrol with deadly effect.
If the fire is in the cabin or a tyre aim the extinguisher at the heart of the fire and fully discharge.
If these attempts fail and the fire continues to grow get everyone to safety away from the vehicle.
Dial 999 and summon the fire brigade.
When it comes to fire safety it is better to plan for the worst and hope for the best