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Safety Tip: Vehicle Fire Prevention and Response

October 9, 2017

A tow truck operator prepares to tow away a fire-damaged car from a California freeway. Automotive Fleet photo.
A tow truck operator prepares to tow away a fire-damaged car from a California freeway. Automotive Fleet photo.

In 2015, firefighters responded to 174,000 car fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Since Oct. 8-14 is National Fire Prevention Week this year, now is a good time to review the warning signs of potential fire risk in vehicles.

State Farm recommends that drivers look for these red flags:

  • Fuses that blow repeatedly
  • Spilled oil under the hood left over from an oil change
  • Oil or other fluid leaks under the vehicle
  • Cracked or loose wiring, or wiring with exposed metal
  • Very loud sounds from the exhaust system
  • Rapid changes in fuel level, oil levels or engine temperature
  • A missing cap from the oil filter
  • Broken or loose hoses.

The National Safety Council recommends these measures if you smell smoke or see flames coming from your vehicle while you’re driving:

  • Signal and immediately move to the closest safe place to stop, whether that’s a side lane or a median.
  • Stop the vehicle and turn off the ignition.
  • Get every person out of the vehicle, and don’t allow anyone to go back to retrieve personal items.
  • Move far from the burning vehicle to avoid the flames and toxic fumes — at least 100 feet — and also keep bystanders back.
  • Call 911.
  • Alert oncoming traffic if possible.

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