She got her 5 kids safely out of the van before it burst into flame
A mom’s story of how she and her five kids escaped her van only minutes before it caught fire is serving as a reminder that a situation can become dangerous in a matter of seconds — and how education can mean the difference between life and death.
She shares safety tips from her experience and is hoping by telling her story that she can help others avoid tragedy.
Rachel Martin, who writes about her life as a mom on the blog Finding Joy, experienced a very close call recently when her van caught fire mere moments after she and her kids got out. She shared the story on Facebook and her blog along with potentially life-saving tips for those who find themselves in a similar situation.
“That’s what is left of the inside of my van,” she writes. The mom explains where her kids were sitting before they left the vehicle and that the van also included various electronics and chargers, some mail and paperwork. The visor held an angel pin from her best friend. And in what seems like a prescient conversation, she says, “Just this last week I mentioned to her how I look at that pin often and am thankful.”
Instead of worrying about the Kindles, Nintendo DS and iPhone chargers that were lost to the fire, Rachel looks at these pictures and only sees what mattered in the end. “You see, I don’t see stuff destroyed. I see lives saved. It could have been the worst day of my life, but friends, even with losing my van and stuff, I saved what mattered most – my family.”
Martin took to her blog to further explain what happened, but still doesn’t know what caused the fire to begin with. It started with white smoke coming from the hood of her car.
She writes, “We were driving to the park to go for a walk and I missed the turn and I backed up and made the turn and as we driving down that park road all of a sudden every electrical warning light on my van came on and it totally died. I had no control over the steering and no brakes.”
She pulled over to the side of the road and put the car in park. She noted that the engine temperature was normal, but there was still white smoke emerging from under the hood. Her eleven-year-old son got out of the car and saw fire coming from the engine, and that’s when she kicked into action.
Martin screamed for her kids to get out of the car, and without thinking, used her own foot to try to stomp out fire on the ground. That resulted in second-degree burns and a melted shoe, but because of her quick thinking, it was the only injury sustained by anyone that day.
Now, the mom is simply grateful for the help she received that day from strangers and the fact that everyone came out unscathed, aside from her foot. Among the tips she shares for anyone finding themselves in this situation, she stresses the importance of getting out — fast — and then moving as far from the car as possible. It’s crucial to never open the hood to investigate the source of smoke as introducing oxygen could cause any fire to grow. Due to the risk of explosion, the 911 operator advised that everyone get at least 100 feet away. Martin also reminds us not to try to put the fire out ourselves and to get any burns checked at the hospital since they can be more severe than they look.
We had a chance to talk to Rachel about her harrowing experience. She tells Scary Mommy that in the aftermath, she’s been well taken care of. “One reader on the Finding Joy page told me to not worry because “your village” is here for you. They’ve set up a GoFundMe to replace the van and I’ve been so blessed and humbled by that.”
Martin says her kids are still processing what happened and that in a news segment, she was able to tell of her son’s bravery in getting out, seeing the fire, and helping to get the family to safety. She tells us that her son seeing the segment was, “a neat blessing for him in the midst.”
The main point she wants to get across is the importance of getting out and not going back. “It happens so fast. No one should ever go back for anything. One person asked me if I wanted to get anything out of it (when the hood part was on fire) and I told him, “Sir, it’s just stuff. I have my kids.” And the fireball that shot through the van was only seconds later. The heat of car fires is fifteen hundred to two thousand degrees. So — my passion right now is bringing awareness.”
In the end, Rachel is simply grateful for the chance to spread the word and educate others to prevent a worse outcome than what her family experienced. “In all, the stuff was just stuff, but I have what matters most – my kids. I consider today such a gift and consider it a blessing to be able to share what to do/not do in hopes that it saves another life.”