According to experts, not getting the car properly and regularly maintained makes it more prone to catching fire in the summer. At least 10 cars have erupted in flames since the onset of summer this year, as per media reports.
This is why authorities advise truck drivers and car owners to ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy so as not to burst into flames while on the road.
In a statement, Thomas Edelman, Founder and Managing Director of Road Safety UAE, said that vehicle fires are literally a burning issue in the UAE. Hence, he pointed out that vehicle maintenance and inspection is critical to prevent this phenomenon. “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.”
The founder explained that extreme temperatures are not the leading cause of vehicular fires but it could trigger the phenomenon.
In accordance with Michael Vogt, a fire safety trainer at Al Salama Fire Safety Training, the heat, by itself, does not cause 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.”
Vogt added that fires in moving heavy vehicles can also begin in the brakes, noting that braking hard for trucks that are fully-loaded particularly during summer could begin to burn pipes in the brakes and tubes.
Most vehicle fires begin in the engine compartment. Typically, they progress slowly in the early phases, providing occupants with enough time to escape injury, except in case of collisions. Thus, when a car catches fire, time is of the essence.
“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 commented.
He also advised the use of a powder fire extinguisher by pulling the pin, aiming at the base of the fire and squeezing the lever to activate the extinguisher and sweeping from side to side.
Safety Measures When Your Car Catches Fire
- If you are on the road, out your hazard lights on to alert other vehicles. Don’t panic and pull over at a safe location.
- Switch off the engine and get all the passengers out of the car immediately.
- Call Dubai Civil Defence at 997 or Dubai Police and tell them your location.
- If you have a powder fire extinguisher, check the origin of the fire. If it’s coming from the hood, open it and extinguish the fire through the gap. Ensure to be on the windward direction so you won’t inhale toxic fumes or get burnt.
- Stand at a safe distance but not so far from the fire’s base–between one meter to around 1.5m.