How to survive house and forest fires

When you are trying to survive in dangerous circumstances, a fire can be your lifesaver because it helps you stay warm, safe, and cook food. But, if the fire is in your house or in the forest, it could be the worst nightmare that you’ve ever had. In this article, there are some tips on how to survive a forest or house fire.

Surviving forest fire

The last place you want to be is downwind of a forest fire
The last place you want to be is downwind of a forest fire

No one wants to be in the middle of a forest fire because fire in a forest spreads real fast and the temperature can reach thousands of degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, the hot air caused by the fire can actually melt your lungs if you inhale it.

The escape direction

Forest fires are able to spread at a speed of about 10 miles per hour, but they generally only move in the direction of the wind. Therefore, if you are trying to escape the fire, always head in the opposite direction to the wind. Nevertheless, the fire can spread in other ways as well, but not as fast as it does in the direction of the wind. So, your chances of survival are bigger if you run behind the fire rather than in front of it.


A real life hero
A real life hero

When running away from a fire, you must breathe properly, which means that you must keep your mouth and nose covered to prevent inhalation of the high amount of carbon dioxide carried in the smoke which can kill you. Even if the smoke doesn’t kill you, it can cause you to pass out, thus putting you in jeopardy of being overrun by the fire.

Wet surface

If you find a source of water, you shouldn’t hesitate to jump into it because a lake or river in the middle of a fire forest can save your life and can be the best place to wait until the fire passes. Also, water can prevent dehydration, it can stabilize the temperature of your body, and it will also keep you safe from the flames around you.

Be careful

Many dangers arise during a forest fire, and one that is worth mentioning is falling trees. If they’ve been burnt, trees become very weak and can easily fall over. Therefore, you need to stay alert and look around you all the time to avoid  and falling trees. A falling tree does not have to kill you instantly, but it can keep you pinned down long enough for the fire to reach you.

Surviving a house fire

Never underestimate the danger of a house fire
Never underestimate the danger of a house fire

Although they are as dangerous as any natural disaster, the danger of a house fire is often ignored by many people. Most of them think they are safe with the smoke alarm they have installed and as soon as the alarm goes off, they will be able to escape immediately. But the truth is that one should always be prepared for a house fire and that there’s much more that can be done than simply running out the door when the alarm sounds.

Get out

You should, of course, get out of your house as soon as possible at the moment you hear the alarm. Don’t turn back to get any valuables, just try to run out safe and make sure that everyone from your family is out as well.


In a case of a house fire, many rules are similar to the ones in the event of a forest fire. For instance, breathing in the smoke can be equally as dangerous as it is during a forest fire. So, as mentioned above, you must cover your nose and mouth with some cloth and keep down low on the floor. A wet piece of cloth on your mouth can protect you better than a dry one.

Double check

The devastation of a house fire
The devastation of a house fire

Always check the room before you enter it. If you see smoke coming out from under the door, don’t enter the place even it is an exit door. If case the door is closed and you are not sure if the room is on fire or not, you should touch the door with the back of your hand in order to feel if it is hot or not. If it is hot, you to find another safe way to get out of the house. Never use the palm side of your hand because of your grasp reflex. If the door is cool, open it carefully and go through.

Stop, drop, and roll

In the case where your clothes are on fire, use the “stop, drop, and roll” method that you were probably taught at school. Drop to the ground and roll around until all of the flames on your clothing are out. You must keep your face covered during this process.

Call for help

If there is no way out, get to a window and signal for help
If there is no way out, get to a window and signal for help

There are also situations when all the exits of the house have been cut off by the fire, and in such a case, you should try to call for help from the second floor or a higher window. You should shout for help and wave some cloth until someone notices you. After that, close the window behind you so that you maintain the fresh oxygen.

Leave no one behind

At the moment your house is evacuated, make sure that all the people that were inside are now out of it and are safe and sound. Let the firefighters know that everyone is out of the building, so they don’t need to risk any of their lives trying to search for someone inside the house who isn’t there. Don’t even try to enter the house until the firefighters finish their work and announce that it is safe to do so.

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nick-oetken is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival