What To Do When Trapped by a Wildfire

As a survivalist, it is natural to explore the outdoors. Camping and hiking are often a part of your lifestyle. While that is an excellent way to spend your time, there are times where the urge to be outdoors can lead to trouble. 

California and other areas of the world are seeing record numbers of wildfires. It is not uncommon for people to become trapped in areas where the fire took an unexpected turn or the wind suddenly shifted. While many people might assume being trapped in a wildfire is an automatic death sentence, it is not. The key to survival is staying calm and remember several basics.

Location Is Paramount to Survival

It shouldn’t be too surprising to most survivalists that your survival in a wildfire depends on your ability to find a safe zone. Despite so many assumptions, finding a water source is not always possible or best. 

If you can find a water source, one that is not so deep that you can drown or so shallow that the heat and fire can burn your face and body, you want to lay flat and try to avoid breathing in the hot air directly. Using a damp cloth to create a barrier is best.

If possible, a safer option is to locate a clearing with little to no potential kindling for the fire. Some of the best options are rock formations or areas with little to no vegetation.

Running Is Not Always the Best Option

Many people panic when they realize they are in the path of a wildfire and decide to run for safety. While running is an effective strategy if you are close enough to a clearing or safe zone, it is not optimal if the clearing is more than 100 yards away with the fire nearby. Depending on the type of wildfire, the flames can move at approximately six to 14 mph or roughly one acre every five seconds.

Sometimes, your best option is to find an adequate shelter nearest your location. While not optimal, you have a better chance of survival preparing a space than trying to outrun a fire.

Stay Calm and Hunker Down

If a wildfire is in the immediate vicinity, you will need to find shelter as quickly as possible. The best options are to find rock formations, dead trees, or shallow water to hunker down. If you find a rock formation or large bolder, get behind it to shield yourself from the heat. To protect your airway, you will want to lay down on your stomach, keeping your face as close to the ground as possible. The air closest to the ground will be the coolest, helping to protect your airway.

Use a Controlled Burn

If you have enough time and cannot find a safe location, you can attempt a controlled burn, especially if you are in an open grassy field. You do not need an overly large area, only enough to allow you to lay down. Also, after burning the area, dig down a way to give yourself more protection against the incoming flames. The lower in the ground, the more easily you can find cooler air to breathe. 

Most people will never need to worry about how to survive being trapped in a wildfire. However, as a survivalist who spends a great deal of time outdoors, it is always better to be safe than sorry. The techniques above, while not guarantees for survival, do present some of the best options.

Do you have any other advice or pointers? Leave a comment below.