Vehicle Fire Safety: EV vs. Gas

Vehicle Fire Safety: EV vs. Gas

Are you more likely to encounter a vehicle fire in an electric vehicle or a gas-powered one? The answer may surprise you. We’re breaking down the risks of each, and sharing important tips to help keep you safe from a car fire no matter which type of vehicle you drive.


Fires happen in all types of vehicles.

Despite articles circulating on the Internet, there is no government agency tracking fires by the type of vehicle. So, we don’t have a clear idea of which type of vehicle is more prone to fires: gas, electric or hybrid. You’re more likely to see a fire in a gasoline-powered engine than an EV or hybrid, simply because there are more of those vehicles on the road.

We do know that less than half of one percent (or 0.04) vehicles catch fire in any given year. Even though that seems like a low percentage, consider that there were more than 200,000 vehicle fires in the U.S. in 2018, as reported by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).


What causes vehicle fires?

Engines produce heat, and when heat connects with a spark or a flammable liquid, a fire can start. Here’s a quick overview of how fires typically happen in gas versus electric vehicles.


Gas-powered combustion vehicles

  • Fuel system leaks are the most common causes of fires in gas-powered vehicles. Gasoline is highly flammable and can catch fire from a single spark. Gasoline at a high enough temperature can ignite by itself.
  • Electrical system failures are the second most common cause of gas-powered car fires. The electric current produced by a standard lead-acid battery, along with faulty or loose wiring, can produce sparks. Those sparks can ignite a fluid leak or hydrogen gas buildup.
  • Flammable fluids can cause fires if their lines, hoses, or containers are damaged. These fluids circulate through your gas-powered engine, and include oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, engine coolant and gasoline or diesel. An overheated engine can sometimes cause these fluids to seep out of their designated areas. The anti-lock brake system also can leak brake fluid that can cause an electric short, which can lead to a fire.
  • Exhaust-related fires can come from catalytic converters. These parts can be so hot that they can ignite grass under your vehicle. Catalytic converter fires usually occur if your car’s engine doesn’t burn fuel properly, and extra stuff winds up in the exhaust. That causes your catalytic converter to work too hard to burn off those extra pollutants.
  • Crashes can cause fires, even though most vehicles are designed with crumple zones that protect the engine, battery, and gas tank. Even so, a crash can cause fluid to leak, and create heat and smoke, which are the ideal conditions for a fire.


Electric vehicles

  • Batteries can cause fires in electric and hybrid vehicles. This can happen if the battery is overcharged, damaged, or has a faulty design. The battery is short-circuited, causing a chemical reaction that results in flammable, poisonous gases. This can even happen when a car is not being driven.
  • Crashes can damage the battery. If the coolant surrounding the battery leaks out, it can quickly heat up and cause a fire. A crash can also compromise the battery so that it short circuits and heats up. Manufacturers have included safety features such as automatic shutoffs for batteries during a crash, and coatings that help fire from spreading.


EV Car Fires: Much Tougher to Control

Lithium-ion batteries provide their own fuel source, and as a result, can burn for hours on end. They are sometimes hotter than gasoline-powered fires, and therefore harder to cool down. If you call 9-1-1 for a car fire involving an electric or hybrid vehicle, make sure you mention that fact. There are specialized fire extinguishers and firefighting techniques for electrical fires.


Signs Your Car May be in Danger of Catching Fire

Older vehicles may have wiring or other issues that can lead to a fire. However, any car could be at risk. If your vehicle exhibits any of the following signs, take it to your mechanic immediately.

  • Quick drops in fuel levels or oil levels
  • Wide ranges and changes in your engine’s temperature
  • Fuses that repeatedly that pop
  • A smoky or burning smell
  • Smoke or sparks
  • Fluid leaking under your car


What to Do if Your Car Catches Fire

Here’s what to do if your car catches fire.

  • Pull over safely as soon as you can.
  • Turn the engine off.
  • Get everyone out of the car and at least 100 feet away.
  • Call 9-1-1.
  • Don’t go back into the vehicle for any reason.
  • Don’t open the hood. A burning car can explode at any moment.


Your car is one of your greatest investments. Keep your car well maintained and protect it with the right insurance. Safe travels.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or




10 Ways to Make Your Garage Door More Secure

10 Ways to Make Your Garage Door More Secure

It’s relatively easy to break into a garage. Thieves can do it in a matter of seconds, and grab your tools, sports equipment, and other high-value items before you know it. Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your garage from a break-in. Follow these tips to make your garage door more secure.


Tip #1: Light the way.

Thieves lurk in the shadows. Add motion-activated flood lights around your garage. The sudden blaze of light is sure to startle a burglar and could scare him away. It also could alert neighbors or passersby to their activity, which could deter them as well.


Tip #2: Cover your windows.

You probably store high-value items in your garage, including your vehicle. Don’t broadcast that fact to everyone. Use interior curtains or blinds to cover your windows. You also can use an adhesive window film. Windows also are easy to break. Consider garage door windows with panes that are too small to use to enter.


Tip #3: Trim your landscaping.

Make sure there are no bushes near your garage where thieves can hide. You want your neighbors and every passerby to be able to see what’s going on. Pro Tip: Plant thorny shrubs under garage windows to discourage thieves from getting in that way.


Tip #4: Reinforce your service door.

If your garage has a service door that leads to the outside or inside of your home, make sure it’s secure. Most garage service doors can be broken with a well-placed, solid kick. Reinforce your door with a strike plate, using 3-inch screws to secure it.


Tip #5: Add a layer of protection with a lock.

Many garages use keyless locks which open the door with a keypad, fingerprint reader, or remote control. Alternatively, you can use a deadbolt or padlock, which require keys. You can even use a combination of locks, such as a garage door lock bar which stops the door from being raised, in combination with another type of lock for added security. Choose the one(s) that works for your budget and your needs. Pro Tip: Keep the keypad clean. A thief can look at the dirty keys to guess your garage door code.


Tip #6: Update your remotes.

If your garage door remote is old, chances are it is easy to hack. Thieves can use a code grabber that copies your signal. Then they can send it to your garage door to open it. Newer remotes use a rolling code, which slightly changes the signal that your remote sends every time. That’s a good reason to update your garage remotes to a newer model.


Tip #7: Don’t clip your garage remote to your car visor.

It’s like giving thieves a key to your home. They can just break into your car to get your remote. Consider using a smart garage door opener from your smartphone or attach your remote to your keychain so it’s always with you.


Tip #8: Close your garage door.

It may seem simple but sometimes we forget to close our garage doors. Don’t tempt thieves by leaving yours open. Consider an automatic door closer that will shut the door after a specified amount of time. You also may wish to invest in a garage door monitor, which displays whether the garage door is open or closed.


Tip #9: Protect your garage’s emergency release cord.

The emergency release cord is designed to open the garage door in a power outage. Thieves however use it to their advantage. They can push the door inward to create enough of a gap to insert a wire hook. Then they pull down on the cord. There are a few ways that you can protect the cord from this hack. You can pull the cord through a PVC pipe that is too thick and bulky to be pulled by the wire. You can cut the cord very short so thieves cannot easily grab it. You can zip tie it so it cannot be pulled. You can create a door lock shield with a scrap of plywood screwed to the opener’s arm.


Tip #10: Install a security camera.

Security cameras can help deter thieves, especially if they are visible. Make sure that the ones you buy are designed for outdoor use and specifically for the seasonal temperatures in your region. Consider features like motion-activated recording, and WiFi or mobile access via your smartphone or other device. Add a door alarm or security sensor to alert you of a breach. This is especially valuable if you are not home or are on vacation.


Finally, for added peace of mind, you will want to make sure that you fully protect your home with the right coverage. After all, your home is one of your greatest investments.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or



Best Cars for Teens in 2023

Best Cars for Teens in 2023

When your son or daughter starts driving, it’s a milestone moment. It can also be a little nerve wracking. You can’t be everywhere to keep them safe, but you can help them by choosing the right vehicle. In honor of Teen Driver Safety Week, we researched the best and safest cars for teens in 2023, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Consumer Reports.


What makes a good vehicle for teens?

You want a car with strong reliability ratings and excellent crash test scores. Today’s cars also have hi-tech safety features that can help keep young drivers safe. These include:

  • Blind spot monitoring to let you know if there is a vehicle in your blind spot.
  • Automatic emergency braking when the car senses a potential collision.
  • A lane departure warning that makes a sound or other signal if you veer toward the next lane.
  • A lane-keeping assist that steers your vehicle back into your lane.
  • Pedestrian detection that identifies people walking in front of the car.
  • Built-in systems with teen driver controls, such as speed warnings and muting of audio while driving.

You will want to avoid:

  • Sports cars, which have too much horsepower and could tempt a teen to drive beyond their skill level.
  • Small cars that weigh under 2,750 pounds; their crumple zones are not good.
  • Large vehicles with long braking distances.
  • Vehicles with seats for lots of passengers. Each additional passenger increases the odds of an accident due to distractions.


Following is the list of vehicles with above average reliability scores and good crash tests. Prices provided are from Kelley Blue Book and are estimates for the lowest trim models as of May 2023.


New Cars


Small Cars

Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback $23,000


Midsize Cars

Subaru Legacy $25,100
Subaru Outback $29,300


Small SUVs

Honda HR-V $24,400
Subaru Forester $27,700
Mazda CX-5 $27,800
Mazda CX-50 $28,900
Toyota RAV4 $29,300
Honda CR-V $29,700
Lexus UX $36,000


Midsize SUVs

Subaru Ascent $34,600
Hyundai Palisade $36,600
Toyota Highlander $37,100
Mazda CX-9 $38,300
Lexus NX $39,800



Honda Odyssey $38,100


Best Choices for Used Cars


Small Cars                                                                                                                       

Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback 2014-20; built after October 2013 $9,100
Ford C-Max Hybrid 2014-16 $10,000
Toyota Prius 2014; built after November 2013 $12,900
Subaru Impreza sedan or wagon 2018, 2022 $14,500


Midsize Cars

Subaru Legacy 2013-21; built after August 2012 $7,800
Mazda 6 2014-18 $10,200
Subaru Outback 2015-18, 2022 $12,200
Toyota Prius v 2015-17 $14,500
Volkswagen Passat 2017 $14,500
BMW 3 series 2017 or newer; built after November 2016 $16,500


Large Cars

Toyota Avalon 2015 or newer $14,600
Hyundai Genesis 2016 $18,000


Small SUVs

Volvo XC60 2013, 2017 $9,600
Mazda CX-5 2014 or newer; built after October 2013 $11,800
Mazda CX-3 2016, 2019 $13,900
Honda CR-V 2015 or newer $15,200
Honda HR-V 2017 or newer; built after March 2017 $16,000
Toyota RAV 4 2015 or newer; built after November 2014 $16,100
Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid 2018 $18,900
Subaru Forester 2018 or newer $20,000


Midsize SUVs

Nissan Murano 2015 or newer $12,400
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2018 $15,700
Toyota Highlander 2014 or newer $17.100
Acura RDX 2016 or newer $19,300



Toyota Sienna 2015-20 $15,700



Toyota Tacoma extended car or crew cab 2016 or newer $17,900


Remember, when looking at vehicles, talk to your insurance agent to see what will save you the most with your teen on your policy. And don’t forget to look out for recalls or damage from previous owners.


Finally, here are some other ways that you can help your teen stay safe.

  1. Sign them up for driver’s ed or safety classes.
  2. Make sure they get experience driving in all kinds of conditions.
  3. Teach them what to do in emergencies.
  4. Talk to them about how dangerous it is to drive while distracted.
  5. Make sure they are fully insured for peace of mind.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


What is Tailgating and How Risky is It?

What is Tailgating and How Risky is It?

We’ve all had that uncomfortable feeling of being tailgated. It’s not just an annoyance. It’s a dangerous behavior that can lead to an accident. But just how risky is tailgating and what can we do about it? Read on.


What is tailgating?

When you’re too close to the car in front of you, you’re riding “on its tail,” or tailgating. Tailgating is an aggressive behavior that can be mistaken for road rage, and even lead to it. Interestingly, even though drivers who tailgate seem to rush ahead, tailgating has little effect on getting there faster.


Why do people tailgate?

There are many reasons why people tailgate. Here are a few of the most common ones.

  • Aggressive drivers tend to tailgate. These are the same folks who speed and cut it close when making lane changes. They also can quickly escalate into road rage episodes.
  • Drivers who are impatient or frustrated may tailgate. They’re in a hurry and they want to get past the traffic to their destination.
  • Intoxicated or drowsy drivers may tailgate without realizing it. Their state of mind causes them to misjudge the distance to the car in front of them.
  • Young drivers sometimes tailgate. They do not fully understand the safe distance between cars and/or the consequences of this risky behavior.
  • Distracted drivers may tailgate because they’re not paying attention to the road. They’re on their phones or fiddling with something in the car.

Almost always, drivers who tailgate have a false sense of security. They think they can stop in time. Yet it may take longer than you think. Stopping distance is directly related to the size and weight of your vehicle. A large truck will take much longer to stop than a small car. Sharing the road with vehicles of all sizes is important. You need to give yourself an adequate cushion of safety so you have enough time to react and stop your vehicle.


What are the effects of tailgating?

At the very least, you can make the driver in front of you nervous by tailgating. You may even cause them to drive too fast or shift lanes quickly which can cause an accident. They also may tap on their brakes to tell you to back off. That can trigger an accident or road rage incident. In a worst-case scenario, they can stop short, causing you to rear-end them. You may even cause a chain reaction of rear-end collisions.

Rear-end collisions make up about 23% of all crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These types of collisions cause approximately 950,000 injuries and 2,000 deaths each year.


Who is liable for a tailgating accident?

In nearly all cases, the driver who is tailgating is the person at fault in a rear-end collision. Note that a single at-fault accident could raise your insurance premium.


Learn the 3-second Rule.

If you’re alert and focused on the road, it takes you about 2 seconds to react to a roadway hazard. That means a safe following distance is at least 3 seconds or more.

Use the 3-second rule as a starting point. You can measure the distance in seconds this way:

  • Find a landmark such as a mile marker or telephone pole.
  • Start counting once the car in front of you passes that landmark.
  • Count slowly until your car reaches the same landmark.
  • That is the number of seconds that you are traveling behind the vehicle in front of you.

You will want to increase your following distance when the weather is bad. It’s recommended to use 4 seconds for wet weather and 10 seconds for snow and ice.


How should you react if you are being tailgated?

The last thing you want to do is to be rear-ended by a tailgater. If you are being followed too closely, you will want to take evasive action.

  • Don’t engage or look at the tailgater.
  • Don’t tap your brakes to tell them to back off. This can be construed as hostile and can cause the driver to react.
  • Change lanes and allow the driver to pass.
  • Maintain your distance from the driver. Keep as far away as possible.
  • Practice defensive driving as you continue on your way.
  • Be aware that your car’s crash avoidance system could cause you to brake automatically and suddenly. That may play a role in future tailgating incidents.


Your car is one of your greatest investments. Keep your car well maintained and protect it with the right insurance.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or




Must-Haves for Your Car if You Have Kids

Must-Haves for Your Car if You Have Kids

Some days it seems we’re practically living in our cars. Having the right things on hand can make our lives that much easier.

As you’re going from soccer practice to dance and back again, make sure you have the kid-friendly “must-haves” in your vehicle. In honor of Child Passenger Safety Week, we’ve also included some important items to keep everyone safe.



Stock the basic travel items to keep everyone clean and comfortable.

  • Wipes: These include wet wipes to clean hands and faces as well as disinfecting wipes for surfaces such as car seats. Up your game with stain remover wipes for those “oops” moments.
  • Tissues: Travel packs are easy to store. Not only are they good for the sniffles, but they can also double as napkins after eating, or toilet paper if you’re in a bathroom that has run out.
  • A towel: Dry off, clean off, or use to cover a hot seat. Towels can even double as a blanket or a napkin in a pinch.
  • Scissors: These are helpful in case you need to cut a seatbelt in an emergency. In non-emergency situations, use them to cut open items that won’t easily tear.

Pro Tip: Use a laundry basket for the things going from the car into the house and back again. It’s especially useful for sports equipment.



Keep some extra things for everyone in your family.

  • Ponchos and/or umbrellas: You’ll want these for when you’re caught in the rain. You can find inexpensive disposable ponchos that do the trick.
  • Extra pair of clothes: Include a change of clothes with underwear, and a plastic bag for dirty or wet things.
  • Flip flops: It’s easier storing these than shoes for those times when your child splashes in muddy puddles. They’re more forgiving in size and you buy them on clearance.
  • Coats, sweatshirts, and blankets: These are great when the air conditioning is blasting, or the weather turns colder unexpectedly.


Snacks and Water

Sometimes plans change, or things take longer than you expected. This way, you’ll avoid the question, “can we stop somewhere for dinner?”

  • Snacks: Stock child-friendly snacks and update even nonperishable ones regularly.
  • Self-serve containers: Invest in spill-proof cups and containers that enable toddlers and young children to serve themselves.
  • Water: Choose reusable bottles, filled with fresh water to keep everyone hydrated. Water is also helpful when someone has sticky hands or sandy/dirty feet.
  • Trash bag: You want a place where the kids can throw their trash. Disposable plastic or paper bags are good options. Make sure to empty them often.



Keep them occupied with their favorite activities so that you can stay focused on the road.

  • Shoe box of toys: Let them decorate a shoe box and choose their favorite toys for the car. Include crayons and add some coloring books to your bag of books, below.
  • Reading: Pack a bag of books for every age level. Consider audio books for longer trips.
  • Power converter: Charge everything from phones to kids’ tablets to portable DVD players.
  • Restaurant backpack: Stopping to eat? Fill a backpack with toys and activities for kids to use at the restaurant.



We recognize Child Passenger Safety Week each September. It’s a reminder to keep safety in mind when we’re on the road.

  • LifeVac anti-choking device: Enjoying snacks in the car? This rescue suction device can save a life in a choking emergency.
  • Safewise seat alarm: This device detects when you open a back door before starting the engine. It sounds a chime, then issues escalating reminders so that you won’t accidentally leave a child behind in a hot car.
  • First aid kit: From band aids to antibiotic ointments, chances are you’re going to have to take care of minor injuries on the road. Make sure your first aid kit is fully stocked with the items you need. Include a first aid manual for those situations where you’re not exactly sure what to do.
  • Emergency roadside kit: Make sure you’re fully prepared in case you get stuck or stranded. Flares, flashlights, and jumper cables are good things to have in your emergency car kit.


Teach your children safety in and around vehicles for added protection. Finally, protect your car with the right insurance. It will give you peace of mind as you take care of your most precious cargo—your children. Safe travels.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614.

How to Use a Car Jack Safely

How to Use a Car Jack Safely

Thump, thump, thump. The sound of a flat tire doesn’t have to ruin your day. Be prepared for a future blow-out or puncture by reviewing how to use a car jack safely. In honor of National Preparedness Month, we’ve prepared a step-by-step guide. Bookmark this or print it out for when you need it.


First, what kind of jack do you have?

There are different kinds of jacks, and they operate slightly differently. Know which one you have.

  • Chances are you have a scissor jack. These are the jacks that typically come with new cars. Their compact size allows them to easily fit in a vehicle’s trunk. They look like two pairs of scissors joined at the tips, creating a diamond shape. Scissor jacks are designed to get the job done but they’re not meant for repeated use over time.
  • Hydraulic floor jacks are used by car enthusiasts. They’re also known as bottle jacks. They have a metal base with a lever extending to the side. They can be used repeatedly over time. However, their bulkier size makes them harder to store.


Step-by-step Instructions

Step 1: Park the car.

  • You saw the tire warning light or heard the thudding sound of a tire going flat. Safely pull over away from traffic. Don’t try to drive on a flat tire; it can cause harm to the wheel.
  • Make sure you are parked on solid ground. Don’t put a jack on dirt or grass. It will not be stable enough. (If you have to park on dirt or grass, use a thick, flat piece of wood to create a stable platform for the jack.)
  • Don’t use a jack on an incline. If you must, make sure you’re close to the curb. If you’re parked downhill, turn your front wheels toward the curb. If you’re parked uphill, turn your wheels away from the curb.
  • Put the car in park and engage the parking brake. If your car has a manual transmission, put it in first gear and engage the parking brake. Turn the engine off and put on your hazard lights.


Step 2: Secure the wheels.

  • For an added precaution, you will want to “chock” at least one wheel. A chock is a block or wedge placed against a wheel to prevent it from moving.
  • You can buy an inexpensive chock block or wheel wedge from an auto or big box store. If you don’t have one, you may use wood blocks or bricks.
  • If you’re lifting the front of the car, put the chock behind the back tire.
  • Do the opposite of the corner that you’re going to lift. If you’re lifting the front right wheel, then chock the rear left and vice versa.


Step 3: Set up the jack.

  • You will find your jack in the trunk or under the luggage floor cover.
  • Jacks are not labeled with “this side up.” Make sure that it’s not upside down when you place it on the ground. For a scissor jack, look for a larger flat base at the bottom and a smaller “saddle” pad at the top.
  • If you have a handle assembly, put the handle together. For scissor jacks, slip the included rod tool through the hole and turn to pull the sides of the scissor inward and the top and bottom of the jack apart. For hydraulic jacks, you will need to place the handle in the opening. To operate hydraulic jacks, simply pump the handle.
  • Practice without a load. You can use silicone spray if the jack is tight or jerky.


Step 4: Place the jack.

  • On most vehicles, there are 4 jacking points with reinforced metal to safely lift your car.
  • Look just behind the front wheels and just in front of rear wheels or consult your owner’s manual.
  • If you are lifting just one wheel, choose a jack point near that corner. Most likely, the right place is on the pinch weld (where the metal pieces are welded together) between the front and rear tires. There may be a solid square of metal underneath the car for your jack point.
  • Stay away from fuel lines and fragile parts.


Step 4: Raise the car.

  • Turn the handle of your scissor jack to the right (or pump your hydraulic jack). There will be some initial resistance, but the tire will eventually come off the ground.
  • Make sure the jack stays straight up. If it’s leaning, it will not be able to support the car correctly.
  • Pay attention to sounds. You may hear a pop or a thud if the jack shifts slightly. Check that it hasn’t slipped out of position.
  • Stop when the wheel is just a few inches off the ground. You don’t need much room to change a tire.
  • Check your jack. Give your car a gentle shake to make sure it’s secure. If the jack moves, then raise or lower it to the point where there’s no movement.


Step 5: Add jack stands (optional).

  • Jack stands will help provide additional support. They are essential if you are working under the car but optional if you are changing a tire and not going underneath.
  • Place your jack stand directly under the lifting point. Use the pin or screw to lock it in place, per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Do not use cinder blocks or bricks as a substitute for jack stands.


Step 6: Lower the car.

  • When you are done changing the tire, it is time to lower the car. Raise the car an inch or two so you can remove the jack stands.
  • To lower the car, turn a scissor jack counterclockwise or to the left.
  • For a hydraulic jack, open the relief valve to let the fluid drain. This will lower the arm. Make sure to open the valve slowly so you don’t drop the car down too fast.
  • Put the jack away for use at another time. Congratulate yourself on a job well done.


Your car is one of your greatest investments. Keep your car well maintained and protect it with the right insurance. Safe travels.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or



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