Car fires, those which seem to occur spontaneously and not as the result of a collision, are more common than people realize. While the possibility of a car or truck bursting into flames is low, it does happen often enough to prompt investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That may be reason enough to familiarize yourself with these vehicle fire guidelines.
Stop the Vehicle
This may seem like common sense, but many people attempt to get to a fire station first. It’s better to stop and park the vehicle. By shutting the engine off, you’re stopping the flow of fuel.
Evacuate the Vehicle
Just as you would flee from a burning home, you should get your passengers as far away from the vehicle fire as possible. FEMA recommends a minimum distance of 100-150 feet.
Call for Help
If you have a cell phone handy, call 9-1-1 immediately. If not, find a passerby or go to a business and request that they call for emergency help.
Attempt to Control the Fire
If you have a B or C fire extinguisher handy and you’re familiar with its use, you can try to put the fire out as you wait for help to arrive. You should only try to put the fire out if you’re able to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle.
Keep the Hood and Trunk Closed
If the fire is in the hood or trunk, or if it has access to these compartments, avoid opening them. Once you pull open the hood or trunk lid, you’ll be exposing the fire to a rush of fresh oxygen. This could cause blowback or it may cause the fire to expand.
Be Wary of Oncoming Traffic
A flaming vehicle can become very captivating and it can be easy to forget about your surroundings. Always stay on the side of the vehicle that’s away from the roadway. Even if you’re on a highway, get away from the vehicle and stay out of the flow of traffic.
These tips can help you deal with a vehicle fire without panicking. While a car fire is serious and does pose a threat, staying calm is important. You and your loved ones will be much safer if you know what to do and respond with reason instead of emotion.