Smoke rises from the bonnet, there is a burnt smell, the warning lights are on: According to estimates, several thousand vehicles catch fire every year - for example due to technical defects. The R+V Versicherung Infocentre provides tips on how occupants should behave correctly in the event of a fire in the car.

Explosions are rather rare
In action films, burning vehicles usually explode within seconds. But reality looks different. In real life, explosions are actually very rare. Normally, fires in cars develop slowly - a fire in the engine compartment usually takes five to ten minutes to reach the interior of the car. The causes are manifold. They range from technical and electrical defects to porous cables and marten bites. "The first signs of a fire are a sudden drop in power, flashing warning lights as well as smoke and a burning smell. If you react appropriately, you can get yourself and all the occupants to safety," says Rico Kretschmer, Claims Management Department Manager at R+V Versicherung.

Safety first
"If these warning signs occur, the driver should stop as soon as possible, switch off the engine and activate the hazard warning lights," advises R+V expert Kretschmer. "And then all occupants should leave the car immediately." The next step is to call the fire brigade. Anyone with a fire extinguisher in the car can then attempt to extinguish the fire. Important: The bonnet must only be opened a crack wide for this. "A sudden supply of fresh air can otherwise additionally ignite the fire."

Other tips in a nutshell
- Passengers should only take important documents or personal items with them if they are handy. This is because a dangerous build-up of smoke can quickly occur in the interior of the vehicle.
- If the boot is still easily accessible, the danger zone should be secured with the warning triangle.
- In Germany, the fire extinguisher in the car is not part of the compulsory inventory. In other countries, such as Austria, Bulgaria, Greece and Romania, it must be present on every journey.
- Fire and explosion are covered by partial casco insurance. Car owners should therefore quickly report any fire damage to their insurance company.