Vehicle fires can be incredibly dangerous. When mixed with fuel and the electrical parts of a car, even a small engine fire can quickly combust into an explosion that may give the occupants of the vehicle little time to escape. Auto manufacturers are creating vehicles that are safer than ever, but car fires continue to be a risk due to the myriad of electrical parts and batteries modern vehicles boast.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 174,000 highway vehicle fires were reported in 2015. 445 fatalities resulted from those fires as well as 1,550 injuries. The reported property damage that resulted from these fires amounted to $1.2 million total. The number of reported vehicle fires in our nation has gone down substantially within the last 10 years, but as you can see, we have a long way to go still until our highways are free from the risk of dangerous car fires.
Here in Nebraska, car fires are more of a prominent issue than in many other U.S. states. The U.S. Fire Administration reported that in 2014, 20% of all vehicle fires in Nebraska caused fatalities. Nationally, that same figure was only 16% on average for other states. 9.6% of all vehicle fires in Nebraska during that same year lead to injury. Nationally, the average was 6.7%. As also evident from these figures, vehicle fires tend to be deadlier than structural fires due to the higher possibility of gas explosions.
Know the Warning Signs: Reacting to a Car Fire
It’s vital for all drivers to be aware of the following signs of an imminent car fire:
- Smoke from the engine
- A loose/blown fuse
- Rapid changes in fuel or fluid levels
- Rapid changes in engine temperature
If you notice any of these signs while off the highway, get the vehicle looked at by a professional auto mechanic as soon as possible. If you’re driving and notice engine smoke, sparks, or sudden changes in fluid/fuel levels and/or engine temperature, proceed with these steps as quickly and as safely as possible:
- Pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so
- Turn off the engine
- Get out of the car and evacuate all passengers
- Move at least 100 feet away from the vehicle in case it does catch fire
- Call for help—if the vehicle catches fire, call 911 immediately
By knowing what to do in a car fire and following the above steps calmly and confidently, you can save your life and the lives of your loved ones. The best step to avoiding a car fire is to prepare for worst-case scenarios and ensure your vehicles are regularly maintained.
If you’ve been injured in a serious Nebraska car accident that involved a vehicle fire and feel the accident may have been caused by negligence of any type, don’t hesitate to reach out to Welsh & Welsh today. Our personal injury law firm can pair you with an Omaha car crash lawyer who can tell you the merits of your potential cause and help your family recover.
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