Car fires — a daunting reality
When most people think of fires, their first thought is not of a car fire. Unbelievably one out of every seven fires responded to by fire departments across the nation is a highway vehicle fire. This does not include the tens of thousands of responses to regular accidents. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, this breaks down to 31 highway car fires every hour of every day resulting in an average of 480 deaths per year.
What to do if this happens to you
- Quickly move to the closest safe place to stop, a side lane or a median.
- Stop the car and turn off the ignition.
- Get every person out of the car, no going back for items.
- Move far from the burning vehicle — at least 100 feet — and keep bystanders back.
- Call 911.
- Alert oncoming traffic if possible.
These steps are recommended by the National Safety Council. It is generally not recommended that you try to put out the fire yourself. Opening the hood or car doors increases the air supply and may accelerate the fire.
Can I prevent car fires?
Although some car fires occur in collisions, more often they are from problems with the electrical or fuel system. Your best defense is to check these systems with all oil changes. Frequently check for the following warning signs:
- Fuses that blow repeatedly
- Spilled oil under the hood left over from an oil change
- Oil or other fluid leaks under the vehicle
- Cracked or loose wiring, or wiring with exposed metal
- Very loud sounds from the exhaust system
• Rapid changes in fuel level, oil levels, or engine temperature
• A missing cap from the oil filler
• Broken or loose hoses