How do I survive a wildfire?

It's wildfire season and with half of our great country up in flames we would like to thank our brave firefighters for risking their lives to protect us everyday. 

We have a few survival tips for those who are camping or hiking and find themselves in the middle of a wildfire. Stay educated and safe! 

  1. Remain calm and self-confident in your capability to escape and live. Your mental condition will be a significant factor in determining your ability to make it out alive.
  2. Flee from the fire immediately. Hike downhill and upwind and avoid dense areas of forest.
  3. Avoid areas of muddy vegetation.
  4. Clear away dry brush
  5. Always protect your airways. This is one of the most important things you can do when caught in a wildfire. As soon as you start gasping smoke and carbon monoxide, you're going to risk passing out. Stay low to the ground, cover your face with a wet cloth if possible and most importantly, KEEP CALM.
  1. If no form of water is accessible, pursue the lowermost spot in the range you have chosen or dig a ditch.
  2. Head for non-flammable terrain: Look for close by places free of trees and brush.
  1. As the fire approaches try to remain calm. You should know that the fire could take several minutes to pass and the heat will likely be unbearable, but if you attempt to flee at this time death is almost a certainty.
  2. Once the fire passes the danger is not over. The ground and debris will still likely be very hot and extreme caution should be used when fleeing from the area.
  3. Remove all artificial clothing which could melt to your flesh, cover your head and face with clothing made from natural fibers, wet a cloth and wrap it around your face for fire and smoke protection, and lay down in the ditch. If possible partially cover yourself with dirt.
  4. Try to avoid revealing any burns you may have sustained to dirt and open air. The potential for infection will be very high and extra safety measures should be taken.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, people cause nine out of 10 wildfires. Other causes include fireworks, sparks from equipment or vehicles, burning leaves or debris or even cigarettes tossed from cars.

Use these tips to help prevent wildfires when burning a campfire:

  • Do not build a campfire at a site with dry conditions. Check with the local park ranger to see if there is a burn ban.
  • If there is no burn ban, use the designated fire ring or fire pit for your campfire.
  • If there is no designated campfire spot, look for a site away from tents, trees or scrub.
  • Keep your campfire small and under control. Never leave your campfire unattended.
  • Allow the fire to burn completely to ash. Then, to fully extinguish the campfire, pour lots of water and drown all embers. Stir the ashes with a shovel and pour more water atop the ash until all hissing sounds stop. Make sure everything is cold to the touch.

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