Here's how to prevent your car from catching fire in UAE's heat
Sharjah - Most of the recent vehicle fire accidents were caused by the negligence of drivers in conducting timely maintenance.
It is now the peak of summer and in the wake of the intense heat, authorities have urged motorists to carry out regular maintenance and service of their cars to control any possible fuel or oil leaks which can cause fires to break out.
The safety and security authorities in Sharjah have warned against fire accidents in vehicles which could even turn fatal.
Most of the recent vehicle fire accidents were caused by the negligence of drivers in conducting timely maintenance, especially with regard to fuel, and electrical faults.
A top official at the Sharjah Civil Defence said that the failure to follow the vehicle safety guidelines, including properly maintaining the cars, leads to fire accidents. Col Sami Al Naqbi, Director-General of the Sharjah Civil Defence, called upon motorists to be vigilant to prevent vehicle fires.
He said that the number of vehicle fire accidents is increasing despite the awareness campaigns carried out by the department during the previous year. "There are many motorists who are not aware of what could happen to their vehicles during high temperatures. Most of them don't check the vehicle engines regularly or maintain the vehicles, which is the reason for a spate of fire accidents on roads," he said.
Col. Al Naqbi said that according to investigation reports of vehicle fires, most of the accidents are caused due to improper maintenance of electrical systems, illegal modifications to the vehicles and smoking inside the car.
Sometimes vehicles catch fire during collision or flipping over accidents due to strong impact that affects the fuel parts. "If an electrical spark in the engine is triggered during such accident, it can ignite the fuel and cause a fire," he said.
Measures to prevent vehicles fire accidents
Col Al Naqbi said that motorists must follow the safety measures such as seeking help from experts to conduct regular maintenance of vehicles, checking water and temperature levels, securing the fuel cap tightly to prevent leakage and turning off the engine when filling gas at petrol stations.
"The driver must know how to use a fire extinguisher that should always be kept in the car. This helps minimise the magnitude of the fire until firefighters reach the site," he added.
According to a fire expert at the Sharjah Forensic Laboratory, there are several reasons that cause such accidents, including water shortage in the radiators, faults in electric wires, rupture in the exhaust pipe, leakage of petrol through the feeder tubing and the filler slot.
He warned that the severity of electrical hazards in vehicles increases when unqualified people make electrical connections or new additions to cars, such as installing radios or installing additional headlights which may lead to increased load on electrical circuits. "Fuel fires are the most dangerous vehicle fires, due to the nature of the petroleum products. When a fire breaks out after a collision between two vehicles, it is the most dangerous to life, especially if the collision causes some passengers to be trapped in the car," he added.
What causes fires in cars
Not adhering to service schedule: It is always recommended to take the car to the service station at regular intervals as prescribed by the car manual. It is also mandatory to choose a trusted technician, preferably company-owned service stations, for the maintenance of your car.
Storage of combustible materials: One of the major car fire causes is storage of combustible materials in the car. A pressurized can, such as a deodorant bottle or air-freshener, could get really hot and explode inside your car when parked under the sun resulting in a fire.
Smoking in car: Smoking is not only harmful for your health but is also one of the car fire causes. Ashes from a lit cigarette could burn the upholstery of your vehicle resulting in a car fire.
Aftermarket accessories: It is always advised to never accessorise your car with sub-standard accessories by unprofessional mechanics. Tampering with the electronics on your vehicle could become a major reason for a short-circuit under the hood.
Remain alert for any burning smell: Your senses are your first defence against any threat of fire in your vehicle. It is always recommended to remain alert for the pungent burning smell in your vehicle which could be coming from initial fire burns. An early detection of fumes could prevent a major blaze.
What to do if your car catches fire
> Escaping from a burning car is a challenge that requires fast thinking and even faster response.
> Stay as calm as you can. The worst possible thing that you can do is panic. Panic will cause you to waste precious seconds and make mistakes that could end up being tragic.
>If the vehicle is moving, signal and move to the side of the road.
> Get everyone out of the vehicle safely.
> Turn off the ignition.
> Put the vehicle in parking or slam the emergency brake.
> Move at least 30 metres away. Keep traffic in mind and keep everyone together. There is not only danger from the fire, but also from other vehicles moving in the area.
> Warn oncoming traffic.
> Notify emergency services '999' from a safe distance.
> Do not go back into a burning vehicle.
> Do not open the hood or trunk if you suspect a fire under it. Air could rush in, enlarging the fire leading to injury.
> Be cautious of attempting to put out the fire yourself -there is a risk of explosion and toxic fumes emanating from vehicle fires. Inhalation of toxic fumes is the most common form of fire-related death.
> If the fire is relatively small and in the interior, use your extinguisher. If there's a small amount of smoke coming from under the hood, pop the release but don't lift the hood. Quickly spray through the gap, from several feet away, aiming at the base of the fire rather than the flames.