How to survive a forest fire

If you find yourself caught in a forest fire, know the best steps to take to survive and escape it.

You’ll see smoke from miles away, but your first clue that a forest fire is nearby is falling ash. When you see that, evasive action is required.

  • Fire travels uphill and downwind fastest, so pick a route with this in mind, but be aware that forest fires can travel faster than you can so be ready for a plan B.

  • Head for hardwoods, since deciduous trees are slower to ignite than conifers.

  • Retreat behind or through firebreaks (clearings, rocky ridges, lakes, rivers), which will slow a fire’s progress.

  • If you are trapped, find a clear area, dig a trench and light a fire on the upwind side. The small fire will burn over the area, leaving less fuel near your ditch when the main fire hits.

  • As the fire passes, lay down in the ditch and cover yourself with earth or natural fibres (synthetics melt), leaving no skin exposed. It may only take a few minutes for the fire to pass.