You’re stuck in rush hour beltway traffic trying to get to work, when all of a sudden an SUV attempts to cut you off. Unfortunately, he drastically underestimated the amount of room between you and the car ahead of you, and he collided straight into your engine. Your air bag deployed and you heard the sickening crunch of the SUV rolling over your hood.

As the air bag deflated, you noticed that there was smoke coming from your newly crushed hood. As you watched, the smoke increased and you begin to see small flames rise out of the mangled engine. You attempted to open your door to get out, but the back of the SUV had you trapped.

The flames were getting higher and closer. What do you do?

Car Fire Survival Plan

The National Fire Protection Association predicts that nearly 200,000 vehicle fires a year occur in the United States. These fires cause nearly 3,000 deaths, over 15,000 injuries, and end up causing approximately $20 billion dollars’ worth of damage—both physical and property damage. These figures, along with the general need for safety and protection, should convince you that you need a designated plan of action in case your car catches on fire.

This plan should include:

  • Immediately turning off the engine – Overheating, electrical sparks, and fumes can start and continuously feed a fire.
  • Ventilating the smoke – If your car is rapidly filling up with smoke, crack a window to ventilate the smoke. Fumes can quickly cause you to fall unconscious, so make sure you have enough breathable air to continue with your plan of escape.
  • Unbuckling yourself first – Even though your immediate attention may be to save your family, you can’t properly do so if you’re still restrained.
  • Preparing your escape – In some cases—especially during accidents—doors become jammed, and you’re unable to open them for an escape. When this happens, break a window furthest away from the fire and exit that way. Car windows can be hard to break and seat belts can get stuck as well, so make sure you have the proper car safety tools in your glove box.
  • Exiting the car as quickly as possible – Fires can rapidly spread, and no matter what personal belongings you may want to save—safety is more important. Don’t waste precious seconds gathering belongings. Remember, you can’t use your belongings if you don’t survive.
  • Creating as much distance as possible between you and the burning car – Fumes, gasoline, and upholstery can quickly ignite and explode. When this happens, bits of metal, glass and shrapnel can shoot toward you. Therefore, you need to make sure that you, your family, and any other onlookers are at a safe distance away from the car.
  • Calling the fire department – Emergency personnel are specially equipped to handle vehicle fires, do not attempt to extinguish the flames yourself. Contact emergency personnel immediately for help.

Getting the Help You Need Once the Smoke Clears

Car fires can be extremely dangerous, and even if you successfully escape, the odds of suffering injuries are still frighteningly high. Don’t allow someone else’s reckless behavior, neglect, or poor judgment affect your family’s future. Contact us today for a free consultation and evaluation of your claim. You could be entitled to more damages than your insurance company is letting on.

Make sure your family and friends are aware of what to do in case of a car fire. Share this page on Facebook and Twitter, or tell them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about a recent accident. By simply clicking the media icons on this page, you could help prevent a tragic accident.