Surviving a Wildfire while Hiking

Advice offered by Katie on Outdoors and On the Go, accessed May 17,2023

Following is text copied from Katie’s post. Visitors to this page are encouraged to to visit Katie’s original post, well illustrated with graphics.

Says Katie:

Avoid Wildfire Areas
The first way to ‘survive’ a wildfire while hiking is to avoid high risk areas! This is principle #1 of LNT – plan ahead and be prepared.Know before you go and asses your decision to hike there;

1. what is the fire status in the area?
2. are there fires already burning?
3. what is the wind doing today or during the time you plan to be out?
4. note the fire ban restrictions

– Check online for current conditions,  check for any warnings from park authorities.
– For added safety, contact the ranger office and make sure that there is no fire in your desired trail.

Firstly check for current updates on wildfire status in the area you want to hike – Nova Scotia, see

Understand Wild Fire Behaviour:
– Fire burns faster uphill due to updrafts and smoke rises.
– Fire needs wood and vegetation to travel.
– Natural or manmade firebreaks like streams, roads help to slow down wildfires, [not always works]

You have spotted a wildfire, now what?
– Plan an escape route before the fire reaches you.
– Travel upwind and downhill.
– Aim for areas with little or no vegetatio.n
– Stay away from canyons, saddle and draws as they will funnel heat towards you.
– Head towards streams or any areas that have already had burnout.
– Try to spot natural (stream), or man-made firebreakers like woodcleared area, road. or fire line made by park authorities.

If you get caught in a fire
– Keep your clothes dry; wet clothing will scald under high heat.
– If you are in grasslands. try to clear the vegetation so that there is nothing to burn near you.
– lie down &dig a hole and stick your face in it to avoid breathing smoke.

How to survive a forest fire while hiking:
– If the wind is blowing toward the fire from your position, then run into the wind.
– If the wind is behind the fire. blowing toward you – run on a course that puts you perpendicular to the wind.

If you survived
– Find out an escape route through the area that is already burned, or with less vegetation.
– Be vigilant walking near burnt trees. as the trees of branches may fall at any time. Keep a safe distance while walking through the burned forest.