How to Survive in a Wildfire Situation

A wildfire is, by definition, a fire that burns strongly and is generally out of control. The term has its root in the ancient Greek word. This word referred to a combustible liquid that could be lit easily but was difficult to extinguish.

Whilst the Greek wildfire was used in warfare, especially against ships, today a wildfire poses a threat to civilian lives and property.Typically, these fires rage in rural areas and often start on their own. However, because of the nature of the terrain and vegetation, a wildfire will often burn uncontrollably and sometimes for weeks at a time.

As fire often spreads fast and wind- borne embers jump from one hotspot to another, you can find yourself quickly surrounded and cut off from safety.

6 Tips to survive a Wildfire

  1. As soon as you see, hear or smell a fire, leave the area. Take the lowest route because fire burns in an upward direction.
  2. Avoid taking an evacuation route that could channel you into a narrow valley or onto a steep slope. Both act as a chimney for a fire.
  3. Cross a section of burning or smoldering ground to get behind a fire. Before doing so, remove clothing made of synthetic material, jewelry and cover your mouth with a cloth.
  4. If in your car, stay put. Close all windows and vents and lie on the floor. The turbulence caused by the fire will shake the car but not cause the sealed fuel  tank to explode immediately.
  5. Once the fire has passed over you car, get out and move in the direction from which the fire approached.
  6. If your clothes catch fire, do not stand. You might inhale the smoke from your burning clothes and affect your lungs. Simply stop, drop and roll on the ground. Do not use your hands to beat out the fire, just keep rolling.

H.E.A.T. tip: If caught in a wildfire, immerse yourself in a deep body of water if available. Do not immerse yourself in a puddle. The water will boil.

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