A German teenager has been hospitalized after an air freshener caused the family car to explode. The Volkswagen SUV car turned into a terrifying fireball when the 17-year-old boy opened the passenger door. The force of the explosion destroyed the car’s sunroof and caused serious burns to the boy’s arms.
A representative from the Duisburg police explained that the youngster had previously used air freshener in an attempt to remove the stale odor of cigarette smoke that continued to linger in the recently purchased pre-owned vehicle. Unfortunately, he had sprayed the car’s interior with so much air freshener that a combustible mixture of gas had built up. When he opened the passenger door, the interior light switched on causing a spark that ignited the mix, with devastating consequences.
Sadly, many people underestimate the dangers of aerosol sprays. Many aerosol cans pose a fire hazard as they contain a highly flammable propellant to help expel the contents in a fine spray. Additionally, few people take time to read the instructions on the back of the can that typically warn against using the product in confined spaces. Obviously, as a car interior is a pretty confined space, the excessive use of the air freshener without allowing time for the combustible spray to disperse is an accident waiting to happen. The explosion could equally have been triggered by a family member opening the door while smoking a cigarette, with potentially even more devastating results.
This unfortunate teen took his obsession with cleanliness a step too far. However, the smell of stale smoke can be difficult for drivers and passengers to endure and can also prove embarrassing when you're trying to impress your friends and family with your latest set of wheels. So what is the best way to eradicate unpleasant, ingrained odors left by previous occupants?
Firstly, make sure that all the car’s ashtrays are emptied, thoroughly cleansed and left outside to air. Then vacuum every surface and leave any removable mats outside to have time to freshen up. Tackle soft interior surfaces by sprinkling or rubbing them with an odor-absorbing material such as baking soda. Let the powder work for at least 12 hours before vacuuming. Clean hard surfaces with suitable cleaning fluids, testing plastic and wood for adverse reactions. You might also wish to check and, if necessary, replace your air filter.
These steps should restore the sweet smell to your car’s interior. To retain a pleasant aroma, treat your vehicle to one of the numerous air freshening devices on the market that are specifically designed for safe use inside cars. These include pleasantly scented non-aerosol sprays; air purifiers that plug into your car lighter socket, and odor- and chemical-free bags containing absorbent charcoal that you can place under your car seats or inside door pockets. Alternatively, the good old-fashioned scented trees that you often see dangling from rear-view mirrors remain hugely popular.
If this sorry tale has left you feeling anxious every time you or your kids open the car door, bear in mind that explosions caused by the use of air fresheners in cars are extremely rare and easily preventable. In fact, you are more likely to experience an explosion from an aerosol can left inside a car in direct sunlight on a fiercely hot summer’s day. Car fires are more usually caused by problems related to fuel, faulty electrics or the exhaust system and most of these can be avoided with regular service and maintenance checks.