Airbag safety at an accident scene

Yesterday afternoon, while Towing in Santa Rosa, Yarbrough Bros Towing responded to a three car accident that required all three vehicles be towed. Well when we arrived to the scene, two of the three vehicles had the Airbags deployed from impact and the third had not. This gave me an idea for today's blog topic of Airbag safety after a collision. With any vehicle that is involved in a collision where the airbag has not deployed, it is extremely important that you or anyone for that matter, use caution when entering the passenger compartment of the vehicle. Do NOT place your body close to the airbag or in direct path of the steering wheel or dash for risk of deployment. If the emergency response agency (FIRE or POLICE, HIGHWAY PATROL) have already responded, more than likely the power supply (battery) has been disconnected. However, as a precaution, be aware that for the next 10 minutes after power has been interrupted, the airbag safety restraint system is still charged. If the vehicles battery is not accessible due to damage or such, avoid reaching in through the drivers window near the steering wheel. If you need to access the keys, or free the steering for what ever reason, reach below the column, avoiding the path of deployment. Some facts about airbags are as follows; most frontal airbag systems work in deceleration, rather than upon impact, to properly set the system off during the impact. Side airbags can deploy during an impact rather than the deceleration as mentioned above. Some airbags are single stage and some are double stage systems. Simply put, a dual stage system looks like a single stage when deployed, but still has a charge in it. Therefore, always assume that the deployed system is a dual stage and use caution when in or around it. In most airbag systems, a canister of sodium azide is converted to nitrogen gas to deploy the airbag. This gas inflates the bag and then quickly deflates. Some smoke will be evident from the inflator module, however this is normal. The smoke is actual airborne particles from the inflation. Acute exposure to the dust or gas that is present from the deployed airbag may produce adverse reactions that could include; Headache, confusion, dizziness, bronchial irritation and mucus membrane irritation. For those drivers that were impacted by the deployed airbag, some times skin irritation or abrasions can occur. Safety glasses and gloves are recommended for working in or around a vehicle that has had an airbag deployed.

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