Now that the weather is getting warmer, more people take the roads for day trips and vacations. But there's also the danger of vehicle fires. "Actually, it's a year-round type of incident. But the higher numbers are produced primarily in the summer time," says Capt. Kevin Fox with the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services. "We want people to prepare in the spring time doing a lot better maintenance and such to eliminate the opportunity for those fires to occur."
Capt. Fox says motorists should have a mechanic check over their vehicles for such things as cracked or loose wiring, blown fuses, electrical malfunction and unsecured oil caps before heading out on the road.
He also says be careful if you transport gasoline in your car. "We want you to use a certified type of gas can if you have to do that," he says. "If you have to transport inside of a vehicle, make sure you only put small amounts inside the gas can. And also, make sure there's adequate ventilation so keep the window cracked or the window down so they're good air movement inside the vehicle."
If your vehicle catches fire, Fox says pull over as safely as you can, turn off the engine and get everyone out. "We don't want you going back inside because you can quickly become overcome by smoke. Smoke is highly toxic, especially the smoke inside of a passenger compartment," he says.
When you're out, stay 100-feet or more from traffic and the vehicle. "The burning car can actually have struts and things like that that are spring loaded which can shoot out and actually strike people or strike objects."
In addition, fire and rescue officials recommend you pay attention to where you are, such as the mile markers and the overhead signs. That will help emergency workers find you if you're car catches fire or it breaks down.
The National Fire Protection Association says fire departments across the country respond to an average of 150,000 vehicle fires each year. Out of that number, 209 people are killed, 764 are injured, and the property loss can total $536-million.