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Motor Vehicle Fire Safety Tips

How much do you know about vehicle fires? Would you know what to do if your vehicle caught fire?

Are vehicles fires really that dangerous?
Yes! They can produce toxic gases. Cars, trucks and other motor vehicles are made of many synthetic materials that can be deadly when they burn.

Are burn injuries a concern?
A vehicle fire can generate heat upwards of 1500 degrees (keep in mind that water boils at 212 degrees!). Flames can also shoot out distances of 10 feet or more from a vehicle fire.

What else is a problem?
Parts of a vehicle can burst because of the intense heat. Bumpers, tire rims, shafts, engine parts and other pieces can become lethal shrapnel. Air bags can also deploy.

Do gas tanks commonly explode?
It is relatively rare, but gas tanks can rupture and spray flammable fuel. In even rarer instances, gas tanks have been known to explode. Some materials, such as battery acid, can cause injury without even burning.

Do vehicle fires happen often?
About 1 out of 4 fires involves a motor vehicle and 1 out of 8 deaths results from a vehicle fire.

What should I do if my vehicle catches fire?
Get yourself and others out of and away from the vehicle. If the vehicle is in a structure, exit immediately. Never open the hood of trunk if you suspect a fire under it. Air could rush in, making the fire larger. Call 9-1-1 once you are a safe distance from the vehicle. Stay away ~ do not attempt to retrieve any personal items from the vehicle. If you decide to use a fire extinguisher (use one for class B and C fires), make sure you are a safe distance from the vehicle and have a means to exit. Call the fire department even if you are able to extinguish the fire.

For additional tips please contact Cinda Seamon, Fire & Life Safety Educatoremail icon, Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue, 843-682-5141.