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Car fire safety tips

Last year there were 20,300 vehicle fires. Some of these fires were accidental, others were deliberately started to cover up criminal activity. Minimise your risk by taking the following precautions.

Have fire fighting tools

Here’s a driver’s toolkit we recommend that you put together.
  • Dry powder fire extinguisher –          It’s the only one suitable for your car –          Commercial vehicles legally have to carry one that’s at least 2kg
  • Reflective waist coat –          So other road users will see you when you exit your vehicles
  • A folding hazard warning triangle –          To alert other road users of the hazard
  • First aid kit –          For treating burns and other injuries
  • Specialist cotton gloves –          To protect your hand from burns
  • Emergency escape tools –          Such as a break glass hammer and seat belt cutter –          In case you are trapped in your car
  • An emergency foil blanket –          It will help you retain 90% of your body heat in cold conditions

Keep your vehicle secure

If somebody is able to break into and steal your car, they may well set fire to it afterwards. Keeping your vehicle secure is one of the best ways to protect yourself.
    1. Car FireRemove the ignition key whenever you leave your car
    1. Park your car in a well-lit area, or if you have one, in a secure garage or on a driveway
    1. Close all windows when you leave your car, including the sun roof
    1. Fit and use anti theft devices, such as steering wheel locks and mechanical immobilisers
    1. Ensure your boot and all doors are locked when you leave your car
  1. Lock all property in the boot of your car

Maintain your car

You can reduce your risk by ensuring your car is properly checked. In addition to your annual MOT checks (for cars three years old and older), you should:
  • Check wiring routinely for signs of damage –           Beware of bad connections and brittle insulation –          All alterations or additions to the electrical system should be carried out by qualified mechanics
  • Check all fuel lines for signs of undue wear and ensure their connections are reliable
  • Never use heat, naked flames or welding equipment near the fuel tank or feed pipes
  •  Dispose of matches and cigarettes properly; a car’s interiors are high flammable and toxic

If a fire does break out…

  • Drive out if possible
  • Never attempt to reverse or do a U-turn
  • If you can’t exit the tunnel, park in an emergency lane or lay by
  • If there isn’t one, pull over as far to the left as you can
  • Release the bonnet
  • Get yourself and everyone else out of the vehicle
  • Don’t open the bonnet though; this could fuel the fire, and it may be hot
  • When you call for help, use the emergency telephone as your mobile is unlikely to work
  • If not, exit the tunnel using the emergency exits
  • Help other injured people get to safety
If you’re in a tunnel
  • Park on the left
  • Switch off the engine
  • Release bonnet
  • Don’t open the bonnet though; this could fuel the fire, and it may be hot
  • Get everyone out of the vehicle
  • Stay away from the vehicle and keep onlookers back
  • Dial 999 and call the fire brigade
  • Warn oncoming traffic, if you can do so safely
In both instances, if the fire is small, you can try to extinguish it using a dry powder fire extinguisher. Don’t open the bonnet to do this – aim the extinguishing agent at the radiator grille, or under the edge of the bonnet. photo credit: James Callan via photopin cc

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