Don't fuel the flame: tips to prevent a car fire

If you want to avoid dealing with this hot issue firsthand, follow these guidelines to prevent or extinguish car fires.

Don't fuel the flame: tips to prevent a car fire

Hollywood movies would have you believe that cars that crash always catch fire. Such conflagrations are relatively rare, but they can happen — not only during accidents, but because of mechanical or electrical problems. If you want to avoid dealing with this hot issue firsthand, follow these guidelines to prevent or extinguish car fires.

Maintenance is the best prevention

Arguably, the best way to prevent a car fire is to go for regular checkups. Professional mechanics can diagnose issues, such as leaking fluids, before they become major problems. They can also offer solutions and make repairs. Although it may be inconvenient and costly to deal with the issues now, such foresight can prevent damage and injuries later.

Be careful what you carry

Anything that holds flammable liquids, such as lawnmowers or chainsaws, can potentially cause a blaze, so be extra careful when carrying such items in your vehicle. If you must transport gasoline for emergencies, make sure it's in a certified gas can that's sealed. Put the container in the trunk and never inside the car. To prevent noxious fumes from filling your car interior, always open a window for ventilation.

Carry a fire extinguisher

A fire extinguisher can prevent a small fire from turning into a major disaster. Look for one that's compact enough to fit within easy reach in the interior. Because your vehicle contains different fire hazards, such as gas, oil, wiring and upholstery, your extinguisher must be able to handle all of them. Look for a dry powder extinguisher rated for use on Class A (cloth and paper), B (flammable liquids) and C (electrical equipment) fires.

Check for warning signs

Look around your car every time you fill up. Oil and fuel leaks, electrical problems, loose wiring, fuses that blow out constantly or quick changes in engine temperatures and fluid levels may be precursors to a fire. Deal with these problems immediately.

During a car fire

If your car erupts in flames, pull away from traffic to an area that's free of anything that may catch fire, such as a bare shoulder or empty parking lot. Stop the car and turn off the engine. Vacate the vehicle immediately. If the flame is small, try your fire extinguisher on it. Otherwise, move at least 30 metres away from the flames. Keep passing traffic away from the vehicle. Call your local emergency service and wait for help to arrive.

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