Due to the extreme conditions in some areas such as low humidity in the vegetation, extended periods of drought, high temperatures and high winds, extreme caution should be paramount in everyday activities out of doors. Driving a car is one of the activities we all enjoy during the summer season, especially as we travel for summer vacation time. Make sure that your road trip is not the cause of a wildfire. The Arizona Department of Transportation shared some tips:
- Avoid driving or parking your vehicle in tall grass. (Or any tall dry vegetation)
- Never throw a burning cigarette out of a vehicle.
- When pulling a trailer, attach safety chains securely; loose chains can drag on the pavement and cause sparks, igniting roadside fires.
- Look behind you before driving away from fire-sensitive locations, such as areas with tall grass or campsites, to check for signs of a developing fire.
- Observe “Red Flag” fire-weather warnings. These warnings are issued when weather conditions are conducive to the easy start and rapid spread of wildfires.
- Always use a spark arrestor on internal-combustion engines.
You can also:
- Follow all public-use restrictions and access closures – It is important to check with local agencies about any closures before venturing off road.
- Be prepared – Carry a shovel and a fire extinguisher in your vehicle and OHV.
- Call 911 immediately if you see a roadside fire and give an accurate description of the size and location of the fire including mile marker information, the side of the road (are you traveling east, west etc.), the last exit you passed or nearest landmark.
Car Fires themselves can be a cause of wildfires. A June 14th 2015 article in the Boise Weekly, Car Fire Sparks Wildfire Near Jump Creek, shared that; "Firefighters say a car fire—the third in one week—sparked a wildfire that has scorched more than 330 acres, eight miles south of Marsing." Another article dated June 19th 2015 on the KCRA.com website, Roadside Truck Fire Sparks Wildfire Near Oakhurst, talked about a pickup truck that caused a fire near Oakhurst, California that burnt hundreds of acres.
Many times simple maintenance items overlooked can cause your car to catch fire. The NFPA has some interesting statistics on car fires:
U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 152,300 automobile fires per year in 2006-2010. These fires caused an average of 209 civilian deaths, 764 civilian injuries, and $536 million in direct property damage.
- Automobile fires were involved in 10% of reported U.S. fires, 6% of U.S. fire deaths.
- On average, 17 automobile fires were reported per hour. These fires killed an average of four people every week.
- Mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in roughly two-thirds of the automobile fires.
- Collisions and overturns were factors in only 4% of highway vehicle fires, but these incidents accounted for three of every five (60%) automobile fire deaths.
- Only 2% of automobile fires began in fuel tanks or fuel lines, but these incidents caused 15% of the automobile fire death.
• Have your car serviced regularly by a professionally
trained mechanic. If you spot leaks, your car is not
running properly, get it checked. A well-maintained
car is less likely to have a fire.
• If you must transport gasoline, transport only a small
amount in a certified gas can that is sealed. Keep a
window open for ventilation.
• Gas cans and propane cylinders should never be
transported in the passenger compartment.
• Never park a car where flammables, such as grass,
are touching the catalytic converter.
• Drive safely to avoid an accident.
For more information about car fire safety download the NFPA's car fire safety pdf. Enjoy your road trip wherever your travel plans take you and have a safe and memorable time.