UAE summer heats up: How you can avoid your car catching fire

UAE summer means more vehicles on the road, and this means more chances for accidents to occur.

Vehicle fires being one of the most frequently occurring fire incidents in the UAE, it has become the focus of several road safety campaigns.

A spate of vehicle fires on the UAE roads has spurred authorities to raise awareness among road users throughout the country.

Al Ain Civil Defence has launched a campaign, educating the public on the dangers of car fires.

Al Ain Civil Defense is aiming to spread the message that proper maintenance of the vehicle could easily avoid a fire from erupting in the car.

Furthermore, if a fire erupts a proper response is required. A fire extinguisher should always be present in the car.

“The vehicle fire incidents that recently occurred were due to a lack of awareness among motorists and car owners on the need to have a fire extinguisher available in the vehicle, as well as the risks associated with the failure to perform regular maintenance”, explained Lt Colonel Rashid Hamar Ain Al Darmaki, Director of Al Ain Civil Defence Department.

The campaign will be carried out at Adnoc for vehicle-inspection service centers (the main vehicle inspection center) as well as Masaken and Al Wagan centers, where fire extinguishers and guidance booklets will be distributed to motorists, said Al Ain Civil Defense.

Dubai Civil Defence, meanwhile, reaches out to the public in cooperation with Dubai Municipality’s annual Safe and Healthy Summer Campaign 2013, of which vehicle fires form a bullet point.

Statistics presented by Dubai Civil Defense point out that fire incidents in transportation mean on the ground have accounted for the most common case of fire in the emirate for the past three years.

Moreover, compared to the number of such cases in 2010 the number increased last year.

Shehabe Al Badawy, international lecturer and fire safety trainer at Dubai Civil Defence discussed various fire accidents and their challenges at the launch of the campaign.

According to statistics of the past three years, the prevalence of fire incidents in ground transportation means once again erupted in 2012, when 153 such incidents took place, 73 more than in 2011.

Whereas 119 such cases too pace in 2010, this decreased to 80 cases in 2011, but the number of cases jumped again, Shehab said.

Fire in vehicles mostly occurs due to the behaviour of the car owner, he explained. Racing, illegal modification and improper maintenance are among the most common causes of fire.

“It is not allowed to buy a gas cylinder in one emirate and to use it for a vehicle in another emirate. This cylinder might not be the same cylinder as the vehicle requires,” said Shehab to give one example of negligence.
“It is all about lack of awareness.”

Asked how a fire in a vehicle should be extinguished, Shehab gave a three-step guideline: “First, you switch off the vehicle. Then, you open the front of your car, but not too far, because the oxygen can induce the fire; 3-5 cm is enough. Finally, you extinguish the fire with the fire extinguisher until it is empty.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) has launched the third Traffic Awareness campaign for 2013, as part of the traffic sector initiatives to improve road safety.

The campaign, which will run until September 1st, is organized under the slogan: ‘'A Summer without Accidents’, and aims to promote community solidarity and joint action to reduce traffic accidents.

 Brigadier Gaith Hassan Al Za'abi, Director-General of Traffic Coordination Department, MoI, indicated that various Traffic and Patrols Departments at the state level are taking part in the campaign, along with more than 20 agencies concerned with traffic safety in the public and private sectors.

''Its key objective is to educate motorists on the need to take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their vehicles; perform regular maintenance and check the validity of the vehicles’ tyres, to maintain their own safety,'' he added.

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