It’s not burns, but rather smoke, that is the most common cause of death from fires. Carbon monoxide and other poisonous gases that are contained in the smoke can quickly rob the body of the oxygen it needs, altering mental judgment and eventually, ones ability to escape from the toxic environment.
Practicing two ways out of your home or workplace is one strategy for reducing the risk of being trapped by a fire and succumbing to the deadly effects of smoke. But what about fires you encounter outside or while driving?
Driving by or near a forest, vehicle, truck, or tanker fire on your daily commute might seem like a long shot, but it happens.
If you see smoke while driving and are lucky enough to be familiar with the roads in the area, take an alternative route to avoid it. Never knowingly drive through an area that is filled with smoke. The dangers of the emergency may warrant road closings, leaving you trapped in traffic for an extended period of time.
If you are one of the unfortunate drivers stopped in a line of traffic due to a fire or other roadway emergency, tune your radio to a channel for information that will help you make a decision about whether to stay put or turn around. If the emergency involves fire, the smoke it generates can create issues for you and your vehicle. Not only will smoke rob you of the oxygen you need to breathe. It can also rob your gas-powered engine of the oxygen it needs to stay running.
If you are stopped in traffic near an incident that is producing a lot of smoke, stay calm. If the situation appears to be worsening or getting closer to you, back your vehicle up in a slow and controlled manner. If law enforcement officers are present, follow their instructions for a path out of harm’s way.