What to do if you got trapped in a wildfire
Perhaps this would not be something to teach to boy scouts two or three decades ago and a wildfire would be the latest worry for anyone camping or hunting; furthermore, the main concern would be how to start a fire on a cold night to keep you hot and dry!
But with the global warming and reduction of rain in many areas of the globe, wildfires are getting every year more frequent and nowadays it's a real risk to get trapped in the middle of a wildfire being outdoors; it has occurred in the past and probably will again, so if you love outdoors, it's a good idea to get prepared for the worst case scenario.
That's because in case of being trapped by a wildfire you don't have too much time for planning and thinking, having a fast, accurate, immediate reaction is your best tool to increase your odds to survive.
The best way to survive a wildfire is to avoid them, so if there are reports of wildfires in a given area, the best choice is to stay away from them. That's the easy way but, as usual, it's not an everyday scenario, so it will be necessary to anticipate this risk.
A good way to do so is to check the weather forecast. Particular hot, dry and windy days combine the best mix of factors for a wildfire, thus when the weather forecast indicates such conditions, perhaps it's not a good idea to spend time outdoors.
Unfortunately, wildfire prediction is less than an inaccurate exercise and one might come from nowhere and get caught people outdoors in a matter of minutes, so being ready to face this hazard is critical for outdoors and nature lovers.
This is what many experts recommend to increase your odds to survive a wildfire:
1.- Keep calm
Easier to say than to do! A wildfire comes to you in a noisy, hot manner. You will feel a heat intensity you have never done before, high enough to melt plastic and burn your skin even without the touch of the flames, the day becomes night in a matter of seconds because of smoke clouds and during the night it's easy to get disoriented in the middle of an incandescent inferno.
It's not a surprise that being calm isn't easy, but you need to make an effort to do so and think clearly.
2.- Get away from the fire
The best choice is to avoid getting trapped, moving perpendicular or upwind downhill however, you may run from a wildfire for so long and it's necessary to reach a safe area or a quick evacuation route fast, if that's not possible, don't insist running from the fire and reach a safe area.
3.- Find a safe spot
A safe spot is a clear area free of flammable materials. The larger, the better. The best behavior would be to find such a spot just when you arrive in the area intended for camping, and even step-wise when you are camping.
Low grass and well-irrigated meadows are a good choice, same as parking lots and farming lands. Any place with poor or no vegetation, clear of high trees is a good place and, if there's water, better!
In case of fire reach a safe place as fast as possible. Remember, the fire runs faster than you, so stay close enough to the safe area when you are camping, otherwise, the fire will catch you much before you get to the safe spot.
4.- Shelter yourself
Perhaps the safe spot won't have flames but the radiant heat, as well as the hot air, will reach you and that's enough to infringe serious damages and even cause death, so finding shelter remains paramount to increase your survival chances.
A big boulder or log may provide a good shelter, even digging a hole in the sole will work, just keep yourself as far as possible from the heat.
It's a good idea to get into the water however, the water pond must be large enough to keep you away from flames and deep enough to cover all your body, but never as deep to surpass your own height, otherwise, you might get drowned.
5.- Avoid smoke and hot air inhalation
That's toxic and also may burn your airway, putting you in serious danger.
Covering your face, including your mouth and nose with a wet, natural fabric is a good method to keep smoke out of your lungs. Remember to stay as down as possible, even with your face in a hole in the ground, where there are fewer possibilities to inhale super hot air and smoke.
Following the aforementioned tips, you will increase your odds to survive a wildfire (but remember, the best would be not being caught by it) and the firefront won't last forever, you need to hold on for ten to twenty minutes until the fire leaves you behind, afterward it will be time to evacuate, find help and anything you need to leave the area safely.