For your convenience, your vehicle has thousands of wires transmitting electricity to back up cameras, lights, power windows, and about a hundred other technical parts. For comfort, it’s decked out with soft fabrics, padded seats, and interior insulation to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Although all of these accoutrements make for a smooth and luxurious ride, combine them with the fact that your gas tank holds up to 15 gallons of extremely flammable liquid and luxury suddenly becomes dangerous.
According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), the U.S. fire departments respond to nearly one million fires a year, 150,000 of which are car fires. Now, not all vehicle fires result in out-of-control infernos. However, in order to keep your family safe and avoid the risks of disfiguring burns, smoke inhalation, painful permanent injuries, and unsure futures, it is extremely important to know what to do if a collision accident causes your car to burst into flames.
Vehicle Fire Guidelines: Protecting Your Family and Future
One of the main causes of vehicle fires is when a collision ignites gasoline fumes, either by creating sparks or by damaging wires that ignite the fumes. Unfortunately, the chaos and confusion of an accident can make your ability to focus on fire safety even that more difficult. However, if you have step-by-step instructions to follow, you don’t have to be confused or scared. You simply have to follow the safety tips with confidence that they’ll help you and your family not only survive, but also be taken care of down the road.
At the first signs of a potential car fire (sparks, smoke, or flames), follow these steps to safely exit your vehicle:
- Protect yourself. When you see signs of a fire, do not ignore them or try to identify the problem on your own. The most important thing you need to worry about is you and your family. That means getting out of the car and getting to safety. Remember, no matter the size, big or small, a fire can cause serious damage.
- Immediately turn off the engine. It’s a good idea to always turn off your engine following an accident—whether you see signs of a fire or not—because overheating, electrical sparks, and fumes can potentially ignite and feed a fire.
- Open a window. Before the fire makes its way into the cabin, crack a window to ventilate smoke and fumes, so you don’t pass out.
- Unbuckle or un-restrain yourself. Even though your immediate reaction may be to save your family, you can’t adequately help them if you’re still restrained. Get free now.
- Help your front seat passenger. If you have a passenger in the seat next to you, help him free himself so he can help with passengers in the back.
- Get out. Exit the car as quickly as possible and then help those in the back seat; you’ll be able to maneuver faster and more efficiently than helping them from the front seat. If the doors are jammed, break a window furthest away from the fire and exit that way. Car windows can be hard to break and seat belts can get stuck, so make sure you keep a multi-function car tool in your glove box.
- Get to a safe distance. Get as far away from the burning car as possible. Fumes, gasoline, and upholstery can quickly ignite or explode without warning. Keep your distance and do not return to the car once everyone is safely out. Keep onlookers at a safe distance as well.
- Get help. Call the fire department so emergency personnel can put out the flames. Do not attempt to put out the fire yourself. Firefighters are specially equipped to handle the dangers of vehicle fires; you are not.
- Attend to injuries. Make sure you have a medical professional check everyone who was in the car for injuries, including burns, lung damage, etc. Don’t accept an answer of “I feel okay” from any passenger; everyone goes to the emergency room today, and everyone needs to get a complete examination. This means you, too!
- Contact the Law Office of Casey Gish as soon as possible to learn about your rights for injury compensation.
Spreading the Word to Keep Car Fire Injuries Contained
Did you know that you can use your social media to help make sure your family and friends know how to stay safe? Share this page on Facebook or by email to help spread the word on car fire safety. You can also tell them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about a recent accident.