You’re out on a hike or a hunt or just a stroll, and the next thing you know, you’re running for your life from a wildfire.
What do you do to survive? I’m not going to lie. Surviving a wildfire is tough, but there are some tactics to try.
GET OUT people want to wait around to see how things develop. But wildfires can chew up land at 70 MPH. By the time you realize you’re in immediate danger, it’s often too late.
KNOW THE AREA If you’re out someplace you’ve never been, maintain situational awareness at all times. And have a plan of escape.
GET DOWNHILL Fire moves fastest uphill. That’s bad news, because people move slowest when running uphill. Avoid draws and canyons; look for the escape that leads to open, lower elevation.
DROP YOUR GEAR Get yourself out. Trying to run with gear or staying around too long trying to pack things up will only slow you down.
GET LOW If the fire has caught up to you, look for the lowest point you can find and get into it. Think ditch, culvert, or wash out.
USE YOUR CLOTHES If you have a canteen, wet your shirt and cover your face with it. Breathing through it will help you avoid smoke inhalation.
CLEAR A SPACE If you come across an open area that’s already burned and free of fuel, riding out the fire there might be your best bet.
Be prepared—it’s going to be an oven. Don’t try burning out a space on your own. You’ll likely just start the fire that kills you.
SHELTER IN PLACE And by shelter, we’re talking about a fire shelter. These are small, lightweight tents that can reflect as much as 95% of a fire’s radiant heat.
Make sure you’re clear of any snags or overhangs that can fall on you, pop open the shelter, and pray.
SURVIVE THE COLD WAR
During the stressful days of the Cold War, one of the many terrifying consequences of all-out nuclear war was the prospect of something called a “nuclear winter.”
The concept stems from the idea that one country nuking another would lead to multiple countries lobbing nuclear bombs at each other until everyone and everything was destroyed, including the global climate.
Assuming some portion of the world lived through this deadly, radioactive temper tantrum, the resulting change in weather could throw a wrench in humanity’s continued survival.
The driving force behind the nuclear winter is the same as what would cause global temperatures to dip after a strike by a space rock or a large volcanic eruption—essentially, air pollution.
Really, really bad air pollution. The theory is that the bombs would cause fires, which in turn would burn cities and forests, releasing vast amounts of smoke, ash, soot, dust, and dirt into the atmosphere, where it would stay for years.
The particles would prevent sunlight from warming the Earth as it did before, causing temperatures to dip and affecting just about everything from farming to tourism.
Aside from that, a destructive nuclear war wouldn’t have too much of an effect on the weather.
In fact, the weather would play a major role in determining where radioactive materials would disperse after the explosions—prevailing winds would sweep radiation away from the many grounds zero, resulting in the deaths of thousands (if not millions) of people from radiation poisoning or cancer.
On the upside—okay, there really isn’t an upside. Aside from the fact that we survived the Cold War, when there were times that this scenario seemed almost likely, and hopefully most governments are smarter these days about not wanting to destroy the entire planet.