Paramedics in KZN yesterday responded to an accident on the N2 near Amanzimtoti when a vehicle caught fire after a collision. The occupants, a male and female fortunately managed to escape narrowly and get out of the vehicle as it burst into flames. During 2009 several drivers and passengers suffered horrific deaths trapped inside burning vehicles .
One of the biggest fears for any road user is the fear of burning to death. There is not much we can do when our vehicle is struck by a fuel tanker, but there might be a few things we can do to lessen the risk of normal vehicle fires. I would like to quote a section from the Arrive Alive website:
“Vehicle maintenance and inspection is crucial to preventing vehicle fires. The following suggestion might prevent vehicle fires:
- Have your vehicles inspected at least annually by a trained, professional technician.
- Check for any malfunctioning parts and hanging electrical wirings. Do not leave them hanging.
- Include a check of the fuel system in your regular maintenance schedule. Electrical and fuel system or problems are the major causes of car fires.
- Watch for fluid leaks under vehicles, cracked or blistered hoses, or wiring that is loose, has exposed metal or has cracked insulation.
- Have vehicles inspected and repaired as soon as possible if exhaust or emission control problems are suspected.
- An early indication of a problem is a fuse that blows more than once. The source of the triggered fuse could be either a faulty component or a wiring problem.
- Check for oil leaks and always use a funnel when adding oil. Oil spilled on a hot exhaust manifold can cause a fire.
- If a filling station attendant adds oil, double check that the cap is on securely. This sounds obvious, but better to check than end up with oil all over your engine compartment at best, or an engine fire at worst.
- Clean the vehicle regularly – Do not allow your trash to settle in the vehicle.
- Avoid throwing cigarette butts anywhere.
- When driving – Be alert to changes in the way your vehicle sounds when running, or to a visible plume of exhaust coming from the tailpipe. A louder than usual exhaust tone, smoke coming from the tailpipe or a backfiring exhaust could mean problems or damage to the high-temperature exhaust and emission control system on the vehicle.
- Observe your gauge frequently – Check if the temperature is rising.”
We would like to urge all road users to gain more awareness of those measures that could assist them in escaping from a burning vehicle. View the Arrive Alive website and the information titled “Escape and Safety from Vehicle Fire”