How To Handle the Situation When a Car Catches Fire
Summers can be a brutal assault for vehicles, especially in the UAE, where temperatures go beyond a sane idea every year without any respite. Every year, many cars catch fire owing to lack of maintenance.
Not getting the vehicle regularly and properly maintained makes them prone to catching fire in the summers. Just this year, around ten cars have been burnt, as per various media reports.
However, despite the authorities advising car owners and truck drivers on ensuring if their vehicles are roadworthy in the sense that they don’t end up burning down or bursting into flames while on the road, there is not much help on the internet on what to do and what not do.
As per Thomas Edelman, Managing Director and Founder of Road Safety UAE opined that vehicular fires are quite literally a much pressing and burning issue in the UAE. He further pointed to the need to properly inspect and maintain the vehicle, since that is one critical aspect in eradicating this whole matter.
According to the research done by Road Safety UAE, 75 percent of all vehicular fires are a direct result of poor maintenance, electric or mechanical failures or malfunctions. Overturns or collisions caused only 3 per cent of the fires, however, were responsible for about 57 percent of the associated deaths.
Extreme temperatures are usually not the leading cause of the vehicular fire, but rather a trigger for the phenomenon.
This can be best explained by the use of an example if someone parks their vehicle in the direct sunlight, then there’s not much of a problem all in all. However, if any flammable item is kept in the vehicle, due to the intense warming within the car, those flammable items can end up reaching their combustible temperature and end up burning, which can slowly spread over the entire car. Also, pressurised cans too, possess a risk to the car, and cause expensive damage.
Items like deodorant cans kept in the dashboard can explode due to heat and end up damaging the panel in a good measure.
In a lot of cases, fires in the heavy moving vehicles usually begin in the brakes. Braking hard on a truck that has been fully loaded, in the summers can cause the pipes in the tubes and brakes to begin burning due to the added pressure from cargo and the friction combined with the hot weather.
In most cases, vehicular fires start in the engine compartment. Typically, they tend to progress slowly in the early phase, which provides occupants with more than enough time to avoid/escape injury, an exception being collisions. Therefore, in the case of a vehicle catching fire, the reaction time is of the essence.
Also, people shouldn’t give into the misconception that a car will explode since that is limited just to extremely rare cases and is more likely to happen only in Hollywood.
Keeping a powder fire extinguisher in the vehicle is also highly recommended since it can help douse a fire in the initial phase, thus preventing any substantial damage. For using the fire extinguisher, pull the pin, aim at the base of where the fire is and squeeze the lever for activating the extinguisher and sweep from side to side.
Safety Measures To Work Upon When Your Car Catches Fire
- If the incident has happened on the road, turn on the hazard lights of the vehicle to alert other vehicles in the vicinity. Don’t panic and make sure to pull over at the road’s side. This will help you and the oncoming vehicles be safer.
- Switch off the car’s engine and exit the vehicle along with all the passengers immediately.
- Call Dubai’s Civil Defence at 997 or Dubai Police and give them your location along with other details. The number for US emergency helpline is 911, while UK’s emergency helpline number is 999.
- If there is a powder fire extinguisher, check the fire’s origin. If the smoke or fire is coming from under the hood, then open the hood and extinguish the fire through its gap. However, make a point to ensure that you are on the windward direction so that you don’t come in contact with fire or inhale the toxic fumes since they can cause smoke asphyxiation.
- Stand at a safer distance of around 1-1.5 metre from the base of the fire.
While it is easy to panic in such a situation, it’ll be much more beneficial if the person tries to calm down and then work constructively to ease the situation.
To ensure that the vehicle you are driving is properly maintained, you can go through What to Do and What Not to Do in Summers For Car? This’ll help you know what are the components one should keep an eye on from the maintenance point of view.