How to avoid car fire burn injuries

My office has been working with several clients who have sustained severe car fire burn injuries. These are some of the most traumatic injuries I have seen in 30+ years of representing injured people. During National Burn Awareness Week, I was thinking about car fire burn injury victims, and how these horrible wounds could be prevented.

Car fires are the biggest cause of burn injuries — and are way more common than most people realize.

  • 172,500 vehicle fires were put out by fire departments in 2012. That’s a 50% decrease from the 1980’s. Even though we drive a lot more miles, litigation has forced car manufacturers to make many improvements for safety.
  • Car crashes are the least common trigger for car fires— but they are the most fatal.
  • About 75% of car fires are due to mechanical or electrical failures, like backfires, friction sparks, improperly installed parts, or short circuits.

If your car starts on fire: 

1. Stop.

Get your car out of traffic, and turn it off. This cuts the flow of gasoline and electric current.

Don’t pop the hood: because more oxygen can make the fire larger.

2. Get Out.

Everyone should move at least 100 feet away from the vehicle. Stay out of the roadway.

3. Call 9-1-1.

Once you’re a safe distance from the car, then call for help. Do not rely on a passing motorist to call.

And do not try to put out the fire yourself. Vehicle fires can be tricky, even for firefighters, according to National Fire Protection Association.

Stop. Get out. Call for help.

This post has been updated since the original publication.

Recommended Article: The Inspiring Resilience of a Young Burn Injury Survivor

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