With the summer travel season here, families are gearing up for road trips and vacations. You may spend weeks making sure the trip is organized and that your vehicle is road-ready. However, you may overlook important safety needs, such as having a fire extinguisher in your car.
Many Americans are unaware of the highway vehicle fire problem that exists in the United States. In 2004, more than 266,000 highway vehicle fires were reported and caused nearly $1 billion in property loss. More highway vehicle fires occur in June, July and August than during any other time of year.
Statistics show that more than 49 million motorists have joined a roadside assistance club and have purchased an emergency car safety kit that contains jumper cables, flares and flashlights. Yet, few drivers think of a fire extinguisher as a critical component of that kit. Consumer experts recommend including a fire extinguisher in the car for extra security. As with jumper cables, the fire extinguisher could help protect your family in an emergency or provide assistance to a fellow motorist in distress.
Experts say mechanical or electrical failures cause a majority of these fires, which often begin in the engine, running gear or wheel area. By having a fire extinguisher within reach, you could increase your chances of quickly putting out a small, smoldering fire.
Safety experts recommend that your family exit a burning vehicle as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that some individuals, such as young children, older adults or others with limited mobility, may have difficulty exiting on their own and could require extra assistance.
When using an automobile fire extinguisher, keep these tips in mind:
· Make sure that everyone has exited the vehicle.
· If you have a cell phone, notify the fire department before attempting to extinguish the fire.
· Use your extinguisher only to extinguish or contain a small, smoldering fire or to create a safe pathway from the vehicle.
· Read the instructions and become familiar with your fire extinguisher's parts and operation before a fire breaks out.
· Remember the "PASS" system: Pull the pin; hold unit upright; aim at the base of the fire; squeeze lever; sweep from side to side.
Experts recommend choosing an automobile fire extinguisher that safely mounts inside the car, so that it is easily accessible during an emergency. Look for a UL-listed and UL-rated unit that contains a non-toxic extinguishing agent and has an easy-to-pull safety pin.
This article was prepared in cooperation with ARA Content.