I realised after making the nodeshell that the subject matter might be a little ambiguous, so I've thoughtfully decided to include both scenarios...

There's a fire in your car

If it's safe to do so, grab your fire extinguisher (which you should have, if only for self defence reasons) and attempt to stop the fire. If it's near the petrol tank, forget about it and get the hell out of there, but weigh up how much your car is worth versus how much your life is worth.

If there's a fire outside your car

With bushfire season already here in Australia, and redneck lightin'-shit-on-fire season not too far away in other parts of the world, this may be useful to you.

First of all, make sure you are prepared. Have plenty of drinking water, and enough woollen blankets to cover each passenger in the car.

If you are escaping from a fire or simply travelling along and you see smoke ahead of you, immediately perform a U-turn and return the way you came. NEVER attempt to drive through it, as you have no way of knowing the conditions ahead, and you will have extremely limited visibility.

If you are near a fire, and have nowhere to escape to, then:
  • Turn onto a clear spot off the road - a dirt track or an area of gravel is good. Try to pick a spot that doesn't have much dry grass, trees or scrub that will fuel the fire. Perhaps the only clear area will be in the middle of the road, but be aware of the danger of vehicle accidents should you choose that option.
  • Leave the engine running - It might seem like a strange suggestion, but if you don't, the petrol will evaporate. Better to keep it in circulation or else you will not be able to start the car later when you need to.
  • Switch on all exterior lights - So other drivers and emergency services will be able to see your car. You won't drain the battery, because your engine will still be running.
  • Close all windows and vents - Essential so the heat levels do not rise too quickly in your car. Don't worry about running out of air, cars are not airtight, and in any case if you can fit into your car with room to spare you would not be exhausting the oxygen anytime soon.
  • Get down low and cover up with woollen blankets - When the fire gets near, try to get as far below the window level as you can. The radiant heat will travel through the glass, but not through the car door.

  • ALWAYS STAY IN THE CAR. This is probably the most important thing to remember. While you may be concerned about the petrol in your car igniting, as long as your car is not actually on fire the chance of it happening is quite low. The heat required to kill you is far, far less than that needed to ingite fuel - Your car is definitely the safest option.

    A good resource for Australians concerned about fire safety is the CFA's website at www.cfa.vic.gov.au

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