What Should I Do if My Vehicle Catches on Fire?

The thought of a burning vehicle can be very frightening, and car fires are more common than one would think. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that 33 car fires occur every hour in the United States. Not all car fires are deadly, but they are a significant concern for drivers. They can happen during and after car wrecks, but the more likely causes include cigarettes left in cars or fuel system and electrical wiring problems.

What are the Warning Signs?

Drivers and passengers can reduce the chances of car fires by knowing what to look for. If there are fluid leaks under the vehicle, such as oil, it should be looked into. Loud sounds coming from the exhaust system, missing oil caps, and loose and broken hoses are also possible warning signs. Other potential fire hazards include wiring that shows exposed metal, loose or cracked wiring, and fuses that often blow.

Car Fires in the News

In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started investigating millions of Kia and Hyundai vehicle models. The concern was that these vehicles were prone to bursting into flames without being in accidents. The NHTSA and these auto manufacturers had documented more than 3,000 incidents. Both Kia and Hyundai were reportedly cooperating with federal regulators during the investigation.

Recently, Tesla’s electric cars were also under scrutiny after pictures and videos surfaced. A company spokesperson responded by stating that these cars do not present a fire risk, according to statistics. Their data shows one Tesla car fire for every 170 million miles traveled. They compared this to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which shows one vehicle fire for every 19 million miles traveled.

What Steps Do I Take if a Fire Happens?

Remaining calm during a vehicle fire is not easy, understanding the proper steps to take will help.

A driver who smells something burning or sees smoke radiating out of the hood should put on the turn signal and pull over safely onto the side of the road as soon as possible. The engine should be turned off immediately since this stops the fuel from flowing. If the engine is not turned off, a large fire could occur. All passengers should get out of the car and quickly move away to a safe spot that is at least 150 feet from the car. Once this is done, 911 should be called.

Some people keep fire extinguishers in their cars, but they should be used with extreme care. Only extinguishers approved for Class B and C fires should be used; this information should be on the label. If there is smoke but no flames coming out of the hood, the hood can be cracked open slightly. Opening it all the way is hazardous, oxygen can cause the smoke to turn into flames. A fire extinguisher may be used, but from several feet away.

If smoke or fire is coming out of the rear part of the vehicle, an extinguisher should not be used. Drivers and passengers should get as far away from the vehicle as possible. It is also important to be aware of the surroundings since standing on a busy road or near the vehicle is dangerous.

Tips for Preventing Car Fires

Regular vehicle maintenance and safe driving prevents most car fires from happening. Regular tune-ups are essential, and if something does not look or smell right, the car should be taken into the shop. Keeping a fire extinguisher inside the trunk is also a good idea, and it is just as important to know how to use it properly.

Should I Seek Legal Help?

If a driver is injured in a car fire, he or she should seek medical attention immediately. It is also beneficial to speak to a lawyer right away. Car fires are caused by numerous reasons, such as driver error or faulty car parts. A lawyer will help determine the cause, and help an innocent victim obtain necessary compensation.

Washington, D.C. Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Offer Legal Advice to Car Fire Victims

After a car accident or car fire, speak to one of our Washington, D.C. car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King for effective legal guidance. We help car accident victims obtain compensation for their losses. Contact us online or call us at 202-331-1963 for a free consultation. Located in Washington, D.C, we serve clients throughout Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, and Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.