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Surviving a Forest Fire

The best protection against fire is prevention. Many fires start because of a moment of inattention with a cigarette or a match. A single glare of glass through which the sun’s rays pass can trigger a fire. Always be vigilant.

If you are present at the starting point of a fire (where a campfire becomes out of control) in the forest,  your first reflex should be to try To stifle it.

The first sign of a forest fire approaching towards your site will be the smell of smoke. You will then hear the sound of the fire before seeing the first flames. You may also notice abnormal behavior in wildlife before you even guess the cause.

Clearing the way for evacuation

If you are stuck in a flaming area, and if it is too late to control the fire yourself, do not attempt to escape immediately unless the situation warrants it.

If you feel that your clothes are too hot or prevent you from moving at ease, do not get rid of them: they will protect you from the heat radiated by the flames.

The smoke will tell you the direction of the wind: the fire will propagate more quickly in that direction. If the wind blows towards the fire, go forward facing the wind. Head towards the first place that will likely stop the spread of fire, like a hole in the vegetation. A river is the best obstacle to block a fire. Even if the flames reach the bank, You should always be safe in the water. Most forest plantations have cleared fire zones that will also provide a good fallback zone.

Never run without taking the time to stop and think. Take the time to decide what the best evacuation route will be. Observe the surrounding terrain and wind to assess the spread of the fire.

If the wind comes from where the flames are, the fire will advance towards you more quickly and the flames will span wider areas without vegetation. Fire tends to spread faster on heights so taking altitude is a bad idea. Try to bypass the fire if possible, to get to an area that has already burned. It is sometimes impossible because a fire can advance on a front of several kilometers. If you can not escape the fire, shelter in the best shelter available: clearing, ravine, streams …

Protecting yourself underground

If you can shelter in a river, so much the better. If there are none near you and you do not feel able to cross the fire, you can try to shelter underground.

People have already managed to survive fires by partially burying themselves and covering themselves with earth, so that fire can pass over them without burning them. Of course this is very dangerous, not only because of the intense heat but also because of the risk of asphyxiation, the fire consuming a lot of oxygen.

Dig as deep as you can, taking care to remove the vegetation around you and throwing the soil that you remove on a coat or other garment if you have it available. Lie down on your face and cover yourself with the garment on which you have placed the earth. Protect your nose and mouth with your hands and breathe through. This will cool the air you breathe and filter out hot particles that can damage your respiratory system. Try to hold your breath as the fire passes over you.

Taking shelter in a vehicle

Never attempt to drive through thick smoke. If you are caught in a forest fire in a vehicle, park in an open area. Leave the road and be careful not to get bogged down. Turn on your headlights and stay in your vehicle, windows closed. Do not turn on the ventilation and close any ventilation. The vehicle will protect you from the heat radiated by the flames. It is possible to survive in a vehicle until the glass of the glass begins to melt, hoping that the fire has already passed you by that time. There is a risk of explosion of your tank, however, if the fire is intense, your chances of survival are much greater inside the vehicle than outside.

Fighting a forest fire

In a forest plantation you should find equipment to fight fire at regular intervals along the main roads. They will generally be bundles of branches attached to a handle or the same type of object in which the wood is replaced by rubber lamellas. They can be effective to stifle a fire start. Do not try to extinguish the fire by tapping it quickly with this equipment, you will only fan it. On the contrary, hold them against the base of the fire in order to smother it.If you do not have equipment available use a coat, a cover or a very leafy branch.

Fighting Fire with Fire

If the fire is still far from you, it is possible to use the fire to protect you if you do not have an escape route possible. The technique involves burning an area before the fire reaches it. The fire then has nothing more to burn, it will not be able to advance anymore and you will thus have an area where you to take refuge. The main fire must be far enough away so that you have time to burn an area large enough so that it can not step over it.

Also Read: Should I be Prepping

Light a fire as wide as possible, parallel to the front of the fire: at least 10 meters, ideally 100 meters. The fire lit will propagate in the same direction as the fire and leave behind a zone in which you will be safe. Pay attention to the direction of the wind.

Warning : The wind can change direction and the fire itself tends to create strong drafts, so you may have to face your own flames. Do not underestimate the speed of fire – it can move faster than you run. Never light a fire unless you have no other choice and be sure of the result.

Running through the fire

Sometimes the best solution is to escape through the flames. This is impossible if the fire is very intense and covers a large area. In an area where the vegetation is not very dense, it is possible to cross the front of the fire to reach the area already burnt.

The dense vegetation burns more violently, so choose the place where you want to cross the fire. Once your choice is made, do not hesitate any more. Cover your nose and mouth with a piece of cloth. Protect your skin as much as possible with your clothes or a blanket. If you have water at hand, wet your clothes, hair and parts of your body that are not protected. Take a deep breath and then run.

If your clothes catch fire, Do not stay static after getting out of the fire otherwise the flames will lick your body. Do not run, you would only fan the fire. Roll on the ground and try to wind up in something that will smother the flames, like a blanket. If you see someone catch fire, lay it down and smother the flames with the techniques previously seen.

Do not hesitate to leave a comment if you have something to add or correct!