“Burning Cars”: A new kind of accident ! This new kind of accident is being noticed more frequently these days i.e. cars are catching fire suddenly without being crashed. In many such cases cars get permanently locked, not giving any chance to occupants to escape, but to be burned alive.
23 rd September, 2011, DELHI A 30 years old man burns to death after his Alto car suddenly caught fire, dies struggling to get out. He was to become father soon. 24 th September 2011, AGRA, Scorpio Catches fire 25 th September, 2011, DELHI, Nano catches fire JUST A FEW DAYS AGO !
Inside a car the space is very small and it is full of plastics, rubber and foam taking no time to catch fire and char the body of its occupants beyond recognition ! Besides a direct injury by flames [heat can go as high as F], the smoke and toxic fumes are equally lethal especially the carbon monoxide that is produced from synthetic material which is colourless, odourless so escape our attention.
SOME FACTS: These fire accidents have been seen in: Cars of all size or segments [small, mid & big] and even known to occur in luxury cars and SUVs Cars of all companies including international one Cars of both liquid[petrol & diesel] and gas driven Has been seen in brand new cars Ferrari catches fire Scorpio catches fire A Mercedes Benz Burns Beyond Recognition on the Mumbai- Pune Expressway A new Nano car
A Maruti car caught fire near Civil Hospital in Gurgaon Indigo caught fire near Pragati Maidan Car catches fire in Greater Noida Ex-cop dies as his Maruti Zen burst into flames near Rohini
Why are these cars catching fire in recent times ?? Is there any report of some official enquiry or forensic study over this phenomenon in India ?? Why i s that these incidents that were rare a few years ago, have become very common these days ??
What these agencies are waiting for: ? Are they waiting for some more such tragic deaths to qualify for a ‘significant number’. Though on an average in India one such incident is occurring everyday ! ? Or waiting for some kind of public agitation on roads ? Or waiting for some PIL ? Or waiting for it to happen to some VIP Even the media, that is supposed to be the very active investigating agency these days has not explored this phenomenon beyond showing some ‘excellent footages’ ! Till now we are not aware of any such proper enquiry from government, automobile associations, automobile companies or manufacturers, NGO, etc that has been conducted or is pending.
Here we are not trying to jump to any conclusions but certainly expect a proper enquiry on an urgent basis so that we can prevent such tragic incidents/deaths in future. We are sharing some queries and suggestions with you here
Gas based Vs liquid[diesel/petrol] based vehicles Although gas-based vehicles have been found to be equally safe as that of petrol or diesel ones, it is a matter of investigation whether this is true in cases of accidents also? Are the gas-based vehicles more prone to catching fire at the time of an accident? Some believe that petrol is not under pressure and takes time to come out to get collected in significant amount to catch fire and secondly it remains confined to the area of leak only for quite some time. While the gas is under pressure so it takes no time to come out and spread over a large sphere [as we see in accidents with cooking gas in home]. Query No. 1
Is it a side-effect of many extra luxury features to cars? More features mean more electric circuits or wiring i.e. more chances of short circuiting. In such situation we are compelled to think whether the newer technological addition is really a boon or a bane. These automatic devices or electric circuits are not made by automobile co. instead ordered from other Co. But, we don’t know whether these are ordered from standard or reliable companies? Due to ‘price war’ in the market, are these auto Co. compromising on such accessory items? Query No. 2
Are they EQUALLY common in developed countries? There are many international automobile companies in India that are manufacturing cars for developed counties as well. Since these incidents are also known to occur in developed countries so we would like to know are these incidents occurring in equal numbers in cars that are meant for developed countries? If not then what is the reason? Is there any difference in standards of many automatic devices and their circuits used in cars meant for different countries [like in power windows, automatic locks, etc]? Query No. 3
Are such accidents more common in hot climate? if so, is there any comparative study to prove that they are more common in Gulf or African countries where weather is relatively hot. Query No. 4 Why is that these incidents that were rare earlier have become very common these days? Is there really a significant rise in Indian environmental temperature to explain this? Secondly, have these automatic devices or electric circuits have been tested in hot Indian climate or not ?
Query No. 5 Why the automatic doors are permanently locked in such accidents ? These doors are supposed to unlock automatically when the ignition is off or at zero current. But it has been seen that in many such cases they are permanently locked even at zero current. As far as cause of the fire is concerned, the auto. Co. blame the fuel leak or short circuiting, however, they avoid the question of malfunction of automatic doors. These Co. should realize that explosion is rare in vehicle fires and it usually progresses slowly in the early stages allowing occupants time to escape. So unless occupant is disabled or drunk or too young to escape, in most of such situations, occupants have enough time to escape PROVIDED the doors are not locked. It is the malfunction of automatic doors that is mainly responsible for tragic deaths in such accidents.
Dear Friends, Are you just waiting your turn to come ! Don’t behave like chickens and watch helplessly as such incidents occur, thinking this is destiny and cannot be helped !
Please come forwards and show your concern for it. That would be the real tribute to our beloved ones who have been the victim of these new technologies of vehicles ! This is true that our government is very busy in it’s own problems these days. However, there do exists some automobile associations & NGOs in India [like SIAM, FADA, etc, etc ] and we expect that they should come forward for some consumers related issues also !
We are giving some suggestions that may help in such a crisis Keep Auto escape tools  hammer is the most important escaping tool. Although there are special hammers for breaking glass windows called ‘Life Hammer’ but don’t feel shy in keeping the ordinary hammer that may not be so good looking but very effective.  pointed iron rod to open jammed doors.  cutter to cut seat belt as some time due to heat buckle may fuse to its anchor.  fire extinguisher. These simple tools not only save lives in case of emergencies but also give peace of mind for drivers What to do if the car catches fire? Life HammerOrdinary hammerPointed iron rod fire extinguisher
Step 1 Stop the car and move to the side of the road Step 2 Get your seat belt off Step 3 Turn off the ignition to stop the electric current and fuel flow. This is necessary to open automatic doors. It is important to note that in some cars doors are unlocked only when keys are removed. So don’t forget to remove the keys in addition to turning it to off position. Follow These Steps: Do not panic. Panic will cause you to waste ‘precious seconds’. Think fast and act fast. In fact you have only a few seconds so you can not afford time to think BUT to act immediately. This is only possible when you have already planned some strategy of self- rescue for such accidents.
Step 4 : If doors don’t open then use hammer to break the window glass and come out. Step 5 : If you don’t have hammer and cannot get the door open, the next best thing is to kick out a window. Preferably use both feet against a side window. Once it is shattered you can push away the window out of the frame.
Use of fire extinguisher: First ensure your escape then only try to douse the fire. You should use extinguisher only if the fire is relatively SMALL and confined to the interior or under bonnet. Don’t try if the fire is in large area or in the rear side [i.e. near fuel tank]. There is a risk of explosion and toxic fumes emanating from vehicles fires. Inhalation of toxic fumes is the most common form of fire-related death.
Some more precautions 1. Do not go back into a burning vehicle and risk yourself by removing personal belongings. 2. If a particular fuse is blowing repeatedly then this may be an early indication of short circuiting. 3. Double check the cap of fuel tank after filling. Oil spilled on a hot exhaust can cause a fire. 4. Avoid throwing cigarette butts anywhere. 5. Don’t ignore any change in vehicle sounds when running, or to a visible plume of exhaust coming from the tailpipe. 6. Observe your temperature gauge frequently. Check if the temperature is rising. 7. For gas based vehicle, it is better to go for a company-fitted kit instead of local available kits that may not be fire or leak proof. 8. Check frequently for fluid leaks under vehicles [e.g. fuel, motor oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid or even coolant.
Please don’t expect too much luxury in vehicles Why are we opting for an increasingly sedentary lifestyle these days? If we consider the example of a power window, we find that in India, except for 2-3 months, we need the AC for the entire year. The status of pollution outside also hardly allows you to pull the window down once in a while. Why can’t we use our hand a little bit to move window glasses by using a lever-based glass mover? No doubt, you have to consume 3 calories for it, but it could prove a life-saving opportunity in some emergency situations, like this and drowning. Please remember power windows ALWAYS need current and their chances of malfunctions are very high in all kinds of accidents.
However, on the other hand the auto Co. are more busy with the inventions that are meant for more and more pampering for the drivers. This invention of ‘invisible key’ has won a gold medal in an International Invention Show recently [2 nd 0ctober, 2011] !!
We have already discussed about post crash management in digests 6&7. From the next digest onwards we will start a discussion on prevention of road accidents in our lives and the role of different agencies [like role of citizens, traffic authorities, automobile companies, public works depts., health dept, media, parents, NGOs, etc] to control this man-made disaster.
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