Preparing for Car Accidents

An important part of being a good parent is being prepared.  Being prepared can be as simple as making sure you have extra diapers to as complex as being prepared for natural disasters.

One of the things we’ve always tried to be prepared for is car safety.  In the winter we keep the tank more than half full and double check that we have warm clothes in case of a breakdown. We thought we were prepared because we keep first aid kits in the vehicles, but after being Good Samaritans on the scene of a fatal car crash, we are now making some changes. 

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One of the possibilities we are now prepared for deals with seatbelts.  Seatbelts are very important for protecting their users during a crash.  They lock up to keep the person from being thrown from the car.  Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, the seatbelt doesn’t unlock after the car comes to rest.  
 
By the way, I’ve heard this used as an excuse to not wear a seatbelt.  The fault in that logic is, of course, they’re assuming they survive the crash part.  If they don’t, because they weren’t wearing a seatbelt, it doesn’t really matter if it stays locked afterward.  But I digress…  If the seatbelt says locked, it needs to be cut to get the user out.
 
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This “resqme” is a handy tool made in the USA tool that I decided to order for our family to have on hand to do that very thing.  Sure pocket knives also work, but they’re not always accessible, or sharp.  I keep this right on my keychain so I know where it is and it is easy to get to.  I hope I never have to use it, but it’s good to know I have it.  I recommend watching the video which demonstrates it’s usefulness for both cutting seatbelts and for breaking auto glass if that is required.  

 
Don’t tell the children, but they are each getting their own in their Christmas stocking this year. We purchased ours through Amazon.
 
The fatal crash that we came upon involved the vehicle catching fire.  While many other people were busy helping the people, I was focused on trying to extinguish the flames to give them more time to get the driver out.  Because of the fire, that driver was the one fatality in the accident, and I have learned a lot about vehicle fires since.  
 
Vehicle fires happen more frequently than you might imagine, and once they get started they are nearly impossible to extinguish.  This is due to the high amounts of plastic parts in vehicles today.  Once it starts melting and burning, it burns at a very high temperature.  Add that to the volatility of gasoline fumes and car fires are fast and hot, so extinguishing them early before the heat builds is vital.
 
Very early in the experience, I thought I had the fire out after emptying one fire extinguisher that we got from a commercial trucker.  As soon as I stood back to see what else I could do, the very same spot burst back into flame.  That was when I ran to get more fire extinguishers, but even after emptying many of them, the fire had grown to consume the entire vehicle.  I learned that this type of re-ignition that I witnessed is common with vehicle fires.  The time it took me to get a second extinguisher from another commercial vehicle was time that the fire had to grow.  So now, we are carrying two fire extinguishers in “The Beast” in case we ever need them.
 
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The ones I got are 5 lb. units that fit nicely mounted on the driver and passenger seats.  This keeps them handy, but out of the way.  You might think that our legs need to go there, but they actually sit well behind our legs while we travel.  The 5 lb. size is about as big as I could get and still fit them there.  They are rated 3A:40B:C which is meaningless to you unless you know the code, so let me break it down.  
 
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The 3A means it can be used for wood/paper based fires, or ‘A’ fires.  The number before the A tells how big a fire it’s good for, by multiplying the number by 1.25 to find the gallons of water equivalent.  My 3A rated extinguisher is the approximate equivalent of 3.75 gallons of water against a wood/cloth/paper based fire.
 
The 40B means it can be used on burning liquids like gasoline and oils, or ‘B’ fires.  The number before the B tells the square footage of a burning liquid fire it can handle.  I chose the 40 rated extinguisher, because that will cover a 5′ x 8′ patch of burning fuel.
 
The C rating means that the stuff that’s in the extinguisher is not conductive so it can be used on an electrical or ‘C’ fire safely.  There are no numbers associated with the C rating.  It’s either good, or not.
 
Finally, I chose a refillable extinguisher because the parts are all metal, as opposed to a disposable type which has plastic parts.  It is a little more expensive up front, but if you ever have to use it, you can recover that cost.  Also, mine can be recharged whereas if the disposable ones lose pressure after a while, they’re no good and a total loss.  You can find extinguishers at lots of different places in your community, but here is a link to a good one.* 
 
For more information than you ever wanted to know, you can also read this very thorough pdf from the city of Lafayette, IN. http://www.lafayette.in.gov/egov/docs/1309545100_626129.pdf
 
Our family hopes to never be involved with a vehicle fire again, but we know that if we are, we are as prepared as we can be.  I share this information in the hopes that some of you may also be prepared and able to save a life some day.
 

Jim

 

 

*Amazon Affiliate Link

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  • karla dunn

    Thank u for sharing this information. Some of the tips u gave I probably would have never thought of, such as, the resqme. I think this is an item that every driver should have!!!! Thanks again 🙂

    • goatmilkstuff

      I’m glad it helped. We had never thought of anything like that either! PJ