Vehicle fires may be more common than you think. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association estimates, there were 212,500 vehicle fires in 2018. These fires caused 560 civilian deaths and more than 1,500 serious injuries.
While your vehicle probably has some safety features to prevent fires, you may eventually have to deal with one. This is especially true if you have a collision, as car accidents are a primary cause of many vehicle fires. In addition to normal post-accident actions, taking a few simple steps may save your life and the lives of your passengers.
Turn off your vehicle’s engine
If your car bursts into flames after a crash, you want to disengage its engine as soon as possible for a couple reasons. First, you generally want your vehicle to stay put. More importantly, turning off the engine stops it from continuing to pump gasoline. This key step may prevent a more serious catastrophe, such as a vehicle explosion.
Exit the vehicle
The inside of a burning vehicle is about the most dangerous place you can be. Therefore, if you see smoke or flames, you should exit the vehicle and take your passengers with you. Also, alert everyone nearby to the fire and other post-crash hazards. Remember, you should never return to a burning vehicle to gather personal belongings.
Even if you have a fire extinguisher in your vehicle, you likely lack the experience and skill necessary to extinguish a vehicle fire. Therefore, you should call 911 immediately and report the fire. If the dispatcher gives you directions, be sure to follow them.
After you call 911, check yourself and others for any signs of injury. Then, when emergency responders arrive, immediately notify them of all serious injuries.