In the past few months, we have reported a few fire accidents that had turned out fatal as the occupant(s) were trapped inside the car when electronic window & door locks failed to respond. Here is an incident reported by a previous-generation Ford Fiesta user, whose spidey senses tingled in time and he could saved his family except for his beloved car. Here is his statement:
Last Saturday, 25th July 2015, my wife and I were travelling outside Pune in our Ford Fiesta, with Bobo, our 7-month lab, in the back seat. As we were crossing Katraj tunnel, we smelt something odd – an almost burning odor, inside the car. As I almost never drive with the windows down, I immediately dismissed it as a tunnel smell, coming through the air-conditioning system. After crossing the tunnel, however, the smell only got stronger. She couldn’t bear it anymore, and I stopped the car to check if anything was wrong. The bonnet was clean-no problem there; no trouble underneath the car. After checking each side, I got back into the car, planning to carry on with our journey. Moments later, we saw faint smoke just above the dashboard. This was our cue to the fact that something major had gone wrong – we (Bobo included) immediately got out of the car, and stood at a distance. Within minutes, the faint smoke had turned black and the car started burning. Pretty soon, the entire vehicle was ablaze and we stood, shocked, seeing a major part of our daily lives, burning right in front of our eyes.
I have no idea what went wrong with the car, but we are very, very lucky to have survived this ordeal without so much as a scratch. It was just timely action, and the fact that we weren’t in motion, speeding on the highway, that saved our lives. But in retrospect, this episode could have had an ending most ugly.
We can’t foresee these incidents, but I guess we can prepare for them the best we can:
1. Firstly, never underestimate even the slightest issue with your vehicle. I know I’m going to assume the worst from the slightest ‘wrong’ sound or smell in any car for the rest of my life.
2. Always keep a hammer in the car (We didn’t have one). If smoke was detected while the car was in motion and the doors would get auto-locked and jammed, the hammer would be the only tool for escape.
3. This one isn’t really in our control and is pretty obvious, but try to keep the crowds as far away from the car as possible. (There were people taking pictures and selfies with the car just 7 metres in the background while the flames steadily made their way to the diesel tank)
4. Keep multiple copies of every document related to your car in different places – at home, at office, wherever. You’re going to need them (and how !)
Let us add to this inspiring story, of how one should be keenly aware of his environment at all times, to be able to escape the clutches of sheer danger and also be calm enough to save others from the same ill fate.
When fire breaks out inside a running car, we would advise that the immediate response before halting the vehicle should be unlocking the doors (in a click) and opening at least the nearest window fully. When trapped inside a fuming car with doors and windows locked permanently due to failed electronics (which is usually the cause or first victim of a car on fire), the only move left would be to break the windshield and jump the hell out. But that ain’t possible as they show in films without an appropriate tool. Please have a set of Emergency Escape Tools such as Window / Windshield Breaker and Seatbelt Cutter, which must be kept at driver’s reach, like in door pocket or in some cases the glovebox. It is advisable to mount or carry a mini fire extinguisher in the car, all of which could be useful not only to self, but to save other lives as well should you come across a car in distress on your way.
Safety Equipment Is The Cheapest Insurance Policy.
Ashwin Ram N P
Ashwin is a guy with a slightly unorthodox perception of everything. His struggle to choose a career path, between art and automotive engineering, has landed him in the field of auto journalism, where he has paved way for himself to practise both.