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(ARA) - Planning a road trip? You may spend weeks making sure the trip is organized and that your vehicle is road-ready. However, you may overlook important safety needs, such as having a fire extinguisher in your car.

Many Americans are unaware of the highway vehicle fire problem that exists in the United States. In 2004, more than 266,000 highway vehicle fires were reported and caused nearly $1 billion in property loss.

Statistics show that more than 49 million motorists have joined a roadside assistance club and have purchased an emergency car safety kit that contains jumper cables, flares and flashlights. Yet, few drivers think of a fire extinguisher as a critical component of that kit. Consumer experts recommend including a fire extinguisher, such as Kidde's Automobile Fire Extinguisher, in the car for extra security. As with jumper cables, the Kidde Auto fire extinguisher could help protect your family in an emergency or provide assistance to a fellow motorist in distress.

"Studies show that most drivers spend nine days a year commuting to and from work; that doesn't include extra time in the car running errands, or road trips for vacations," said Chris Rovenstine, vice president of marketing for Kidde. "Add the peak travel season to the amount of time families spend in their cars today, and it makes sense to have a Kidde auto fire extinguisher in your car's emergency kit."

Experts say mechanical or electrical failures cause a majority of these fires, which often begin in the engine, running gear or wheel area. By having a fire extinguisher within reach, you could increase your chances of quickly putting out a small, smoldering fire.

Safety experts recommend that your family exit a burning vehicle as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that some individuals, such as young children, older adults, or others with limited mobility, may have difficulty exiting on their own and could require extra assistance.

When using an automobile fire extinguisher, please keep these tips in mind:

  • Make sure that everyone has exited the vehicle.
  • If you have a cell phone, notify the fire department before attempting to extinguish the fire.
  • Use your extinguisher only to extinguish or contain a small, smoldering, fire or to create a safe pathway from the vehicle.
  • Read the instructions and become familiar with your fire extinguisher's parts and operation BEFORE a fire breaks out.
  • Remember the "PASS" system: Pull the pin, hold unit upright; Aim at the base of the fire; Squeeze lever; Sweep from side to side.

Experts recommend choosing an automobile fire extinguisher that safely mounts inside the car, so that it is easily accessible during an emergency. Look for a UL-listed and UL-rated unit that contains a non-toxic extinguishing agent and has an easy-to-pull safety pin.

For more information on automobile fire extinguishers and other fire safety products, visit

Courtesy of ARA Content

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