Wildfire Encounter Survival

Cherry-pre-burnWildfire Encounter Survival

Escaping Wildfire on the Highway:

  • First pull to the shoulder of the road and turn the engine off, but keep lights on.
  • If you must stop on the road, use lights and emergency flashers and pull over as far as possible.
  • Tightly close all windows and vents into the car.
  • Remove synthetic fibers close to your body and wrap yourself in a DRY cotton or wool blanket.
  • Lie down on the floor board.
  • Don’t panic. As the fire passes over/around your car, the winds will rock it wildly.
  • After the fire passes, get out of and away from the car.

Hikers/Campers Escape Tips:

  • First be aware of the level of fire danger in the area you are in and plan our excursions safely.
  • Look, Listen, & Smell – If you see smoke, smell smoke, or hear fire, leave the area immediately always traveling at lower elevations.
  • But avoid narrow valleys and steep slopes, as these areas act like a chimney for fires.
  • Immediately remove your backpack or any other material that is synthetic from your body and cover yourself with dry cotton or wool.
  • Dispose of any fuels, everything from stove fuel to matches and lighters.
  • Look for a body of water, rocks, or a depressed area and lie down.
  • If none of these are nearby, clear an area 10-20 ft. around you of all burnable materials and lie down face first.
  • Try to cover yourself with dirt.

AS A LAST RESULT – when surrounded by fire: 

  • Make sure your skin and hair are covered by DRY cotton/wool and run into a burned area (through a wall of fire where the flames are 4 ft. or less).
  • Never under estimate fire in the wilderness. A small fire becomes a large fire very quickly.
  • Fire fronts change rapidly with the wind and other factors. And fire can easily move faster than you!


  • Be prepared.
  • Have an evacuation plan worked out prior to your adventure, including designated escape routes from your wilderness location in case of fire threat.
  • Be aware of the level of fire danger in the area you are in, and plan your activities around conditions.


  • If you are caught and must go to ground with a 10-20 ft. cleared space around you, the fire will suck oxygen out of this area for a few minutes.
  • Don’t panic – oxygen will rush in as the fire passes.
  • Always let someone know where you will be hiking/camping.
  • Make sure your cell phone/gps is charged and you have extra batteries