transport

What to do to avoid fire in your car

At least 10 cars have erupted in flames in the UAE since summer began this year

17:46 August 7, 2017
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Dubai: Not getting your car properly and regularly maintained increases its risk of it catching fire in hot summers months, experts said.

At least 10 cars have erupted in flames in the UAE since summer began this year, according to media reports. At least three drivers had been burnt to death since July last year — the latest was a lorry driver who died on Saturday.

Car owners and truck drivers must ensure their vehicles are roadworthy to ensure that they won’t burst into flames while on the road.

“Vehicle fires are a burning issue in the UAE, literally. Especially in the hot summer months, we experience a series of vehicle fires,” Thomas Edelman, Founder and Managing Director of Road Safety UAE, told Gulf News.

“Vehicle maintenance and inspection is crucial to prevent vehicle fires. Research indicates that 75 per cent of vehicle fires are caused by poor maintenance, mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions. Collisions or overturns caused only three per cent of these fires but 57 per cent of the associated deaths,” he added.

Extreme temperatures are not the main cause of vehicular fires but it could have an effect if the conditions are right.

“The heat, by itself, is not the cause of fire but it can be a contributing factor. For example, if you park your car in the sun, there’s no problem at all. But if you place any flammable items inside the cockpit like petrol or other flammable liquids, and because of the heat inside the vehicle, the item could reach its flammable temperature and it will start burning,” Michael Vogt, a fire safety trainer at Al Salama Fire Safety Training, told Gulf News.

Also an experienced mechanic, Vogt said fires in moving heavy vehicles can also start in the brakes.

“Braking hard for trucks that are fully-loaded especially during summer could start to burn pipes in the brakes and tubes,” Vogt said.

Most vehicle fires start in the engine compartment. These fires usually progress slowly in the early stages, allowing occupants time to escape injury, except in case of collisions.

Hence, when a car catches fire, time is of the essence. Remember to stay focused for everyone’s safety.

“I know people are afraid. But never say ‘I can’t do anything.’ At least do something. Cars that are on fire rarely explode, that only happens in Hollywood,” Vogt said.

If you have a powder fire extinguisher with you, use it. Pull the pin, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze the lever to activate the extinguisher and sweep from side to side.

“Stand about one metre to 1.5-metre from the vehicle. All fires start small. So if you use a small powder fire extinguisher properly and at the right time, it should be enough.”

What to do in case your car catches fire

1) If you are on the road, alert other vehicles by putting your hazard lights on. Pull over at a safe location like on the shoulder.

2) Switch off the engine and get everyone immediately out of the car. Let them stay as far away as possible, at least 30 metres, to keep them safe.

3) Have someone call Dubai Civil Defence at 997 or police and tell them your exact location.

4) If you have a powder fire extinguisher with you, check where the fire is coming from. If it’s from the hood, slightly open the hood and extinguish the fire through the gap while it is still small. Be cautious and check for the wind source and always be on the windward direction so you won’t inhale toxic fumes or get burnt.

5) Always aim at the BASE of the fire. Make sure you are standing at a safe distance but not too far from the base of the fire — between one metre to around 1.5m. Using a fire extinguisher from far away will not help and will only waste the extinguisher.

Source: National Fire Protection Association, US; Al Salama Fire Safety Training

Safety Tips

— Watch for fluid leaks under vehicles, cracked or blistered hoses, or wiring that is loose, has exposed metal or has cracked insulation.

— Avoid throwing cigarette butts anywhere!

— When driving — Be alert to changes in the way your vehicle sounds when running, or to a visible plume of exhaust coming from the tailpipe. A louder than usual exhaust tone, smoke coming from the tailpipe or a backfiring exhaust could mean problems or damage to the high-temperature exhaust and emission control system on the vehicle.

Source: Road Safety UAE

Timeline

August 6, 2017

A SUV driven by an Asian driver erupts in flames on Aden Street in Ras Al Khor Industrial area,

August 5, 2017

A lorry driver is burnt to death when his moving vehicle catches fire on Emirates Road.

August 2, 2017

A mini bus bursts into flames on Shaikh Zayed Road. 27 passengers were rescued by Dubai Police.

August 02, 2017

A light vehicle parked on Al Ittihad Road in Umm Al Quwain catches fire.

July 10, 2017

A vehicle parked in a garage goes up in flames in Umm Al Quwain.

June 30, 2017

A four-wheel-drive vehicle catches fire in the old industrial area of Umm Al Quwain.

June 26, 2017

Two cars are gutted in a fire in Umm Al Quwain. The fire starts in one car and spreads to other.

May 29, 2017

A car catches fire near Al Lisaili Bridge on the Dubai-Al Ain Road.

March 21, 2017

A car catches fire on the bridge over the Dubai Canal on Shaikh Zayed Road.

March 01, 2017

A car catches fire on Al Sa’ada Street opposite the Dubai Trade Centre.

February 01, 2017

A school bus catches fire on the outskirts of Mohammad Bin Zayed City, Abu Dhabi.

Compiled by Gulf News Archives