How to Prevent Car Fires

It’s not just homes, businesses, and forests that can catch fire. Remember around the New Year of 2011/2012, when that lunatic was running around Los Angeles setting cars on fire? Not only did this man destroy several cars, but the cars were in carports or parking structures that also caught on fire—and that caused a big problem for a lot of people.

That said, it doesn’t take an arsonist to start a car fire. An automobile can catch fire on its own and for many reasons. The National Fire Protection Association says that mechanical or electrical issues are the most common causes, but a fire can also be the result of a bad crash.

If you’re thinking back to the days when you used to watch CHiPs, where a car seemed to explode on the 405 freeway in every episode, relax – most crashes DO NOT result in a fire. In the event of any crash in Orange County, call 9-1-1 and wait for emergency assistance. If there’s no sign of fire, you should still wait for the emergency services to help any injured individuals.

If you’re driving your car or have had a bad crash and SEE smoke or flames, or SMELL burning rubber or plastic, you need to act.

1. Pull over as quickly as it is safe to do so. Make sure you use your turn signal to move across lanes, plus your hazard lights when you find a safe location on the side of the road, such as a breakdown lane or, ideally, a rest stop.

2. Once you’ve stopped, TURN OFF the engine and get EVERYONE out of the car. As with a house or building, NEVER return to a burning car for any non-living item. Move everyone at least 100 feet from the burning car and well away from traffic. Then call 911.

Here are some NFPA tips on how to prevent a car fire:

  • Find a professional mechanic and have your car serviced regularly. If you notice spots on your driveway, leaks, or your car sounds funny while driving, get it checked. A well-maintained car is less likely to catch fire.
  • Do NOT carry a can of gasoline in your car – only an empty container. If you must transport gasoline, transport just a small amount in a certified gas can that is properly sealed. Keep a window open for ventilation—the gas fumes could make you dizzy and cause a crash.
  • Gas cans and propane cylinders should never be transported in the passenger compartment.
  • Never park a car where flammables, such as grass, are touching the catalytic converter. (Ask your mechanic to show you where this is, if you don’t already know.)
  • Drive safely to avoid an accident.

Remember, most car fluids are flammable. Heat and electrical sparks added to that leaking fluid are all it takes to start a car fire!

We won’t be able to restore your car, but if a car fire damages your Orange County home or business, we certainly can come to your rescue. Call us right after you call the fire department and other emergency services so we can survey the damage, give you an estimate and start restoring your property back to its original condition.

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