Surviving Wildfires: Tips for Travelers and Residents
The recent devastating wildfires in Hawaii serve as a grim reminder of the destructive power of these natural disasters. For those residing in wildfire-prone areas, staying informed and prepared is paramount. But what about travellers who might be less familiar with the risks?
Here are some essential tips to increase your chances of survival or avoid being caught in a wildfire:
1. Stay Informed: Whether you're a resident or a traveller, stay aware of wildfire news and weather conditions. Pay attention to local news, especially if you're in a wild land area, as fires can quickly change direction.
2. Red Flag Warnings: Heed red flag warnings—these are weather alerts indicating high fire danger due to factors like extreme heat and strong winds. Avoid travelling to areas with red flag warnings in effect.
3. Leave Early: Consider leaving an area even before an official evacuation notice is issued if you sense a wildfire threat.
4. Get Alerts: Sign up for wildfire alerts on platforms like readyforwildfire.org and listen to local talk radio and news stations when travelling. AirNow and EFFIS are useful for tracking wildfires in North America and Europe, respectively. MyFireWatch can provide tracking information in Australia.
5. Have an Escape Plan: If you're in a wildfire-prone area, develop an escape plan and identify alternative escape routes. Don't solely rely on digital maps; keep a physical map in case of service interruptions.
6. Prepare a Survival Kit: Keep essentials like water, food, clothes, and a battery-powered radio in your vehicle. An N-95 mask is crucial for protecting against smoke.
7. Report Smoke or Fire: If you see smoke or fire, report it immediately to local authorities.
8. Be Prepared Year-Round: Wildfires are no longer limited to specific seasons or regions. Be vigilant year-round, as wildfires can occur in unexpected places and at any time.
Now, let's delve deeper into surviving wildfires when you find yourself in a vehicle.
When wildfires encroach upon your location, finding yourself in a vehicle can be both a blessing and a potential hazard. Here are some essential steps to maximise your chances of survival:
1. Stay Inside: First and foremost, stay inside your vehicle. Contrary to what you might think, vehicles provide a fair amount of protection from wildfires. The metal shell acts as a barrier against flames, radiant heat, and embers.
2. Seal Windows and Vents: Immediately close all windows and vents. This helps prevent smoke and embers from entering the vehicle's interior. Even small openings can allow dangerous smoke to infiltrate.
3. Cover Yourself: If you have a jacket or blanket, use it to cover yourself. This extra layer can provide additional protection from heat and smoke.
4. Lie Low: If possible, lie on the vehicle's floor. Heat rises, so the floor is generally cooler and less filled with smoke. Make sure to keep your head as low as possible to avoid inhaling harmful fumes.
5. Attempt to Drive Away: If you can see clearly and safely, attempt to drive away from the fire. Follow your escape plan if you have one, but remember that visibility can deteriorate rapidly in thick smoke, so stay cautious.
Remember, while a vehicle can offer relative safety during a wildfire, there are no guarantees. If the situation worsens to the point where the flames surround the vehicle, it's vital to have a backup plan. In such a case, staying inside the vehicle is still your best bet for protection. By following these guidelines, you can significantly increase your chances of surviving a wildfire while in a vehicle.
So far, we discussed crucial tips for staying safe during wildfires, including staying informed, preparing an escape plan, and surviving in a vehicle. Now, let's get into how to maximise your chances of survival when you're inside a structure, outdoors and what to watch out for after a wildfire has passed through.
Surviving in a Structure
1. Stay Inside: Just like with a vehicle, staying inside a structure is usually safer than being outside. Keep doors and windows closed to prevent the intrusion of smoke and embers.
2. Block Openings: Use wet towels or cloths to block openings around doors and windows. This helps keep smoke and embers out of the building.
3. Prepare Fire Extinguishers: Have fire extinguishers readily available, and know how to use them. This can be vital if small fires ignite inside your shelter.
4. Water Resources: Fill sinks, bathtubs, and buckets with water. This water can be used to extinguish small fires, hydrate, and dampen towels for sealing openings.
If the structure catches fire, your safety may depend on quickly evacuating. Make sure you have a clear exit plan and are ready to leave if necessary.
1. Call for Help: Dial 911 and provide your exact location. Rescuers may be able to reach you via helicopter or deploy firefighters to protect you.
2. Move Downhill: Whenever possible, move downhill, away from the fire's path. Avoid gullies or ravines, as it can be challenging to escape uphill.
3. Seek Water: If you're near a body of water like a lake or river, try to reach it. Some people have successfully waited out wildfires by staying in the water.
4. Stay Away from Low-Lying Areas: Avoid low-lying areas like gulches or ditches filled with dry vegetation, as these can act as fire funnels and trap you.
5. Find Safe Zones: Identify areas that are less likely to burn, such as irrigated fields, golf courses, paved parking lots, and ponds. Seek shelter behind boulders and rock outcrops if available.
1. Hot Ash and Embers: Be cautious of hot ash, smouldering debris, and live embers, even after the fire appears to be out.
2. Downed Power Lines: Stay clear of damaged or fallen power lines, poles, and downed wires, as they can still pose electrical hazards.
3. Ash-Filled Pits: Watch for pits in the ground filled with ash. These may contain hidden hot embers that can cause burns.
By following these guidelines, you can better prepare yourself to handle various situations when facing a wildfire. Remember that preparation, awareness, and quick thinking are your allies in ensuring your safety during these challenging events.
What's Amplicam? - Amplicam is a technology company focused on early wildfire detection. We use cutting-edge AI/ML and computer vision solutions to reduce the risk of climate change on a global scale. www.amplicam.com #WildfireSafety #wildfires #wildfireprevention #EmergencyPreparedness #StayInformed #SurvivalTips