A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area.
Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, grass fire, hill fire, peat fire, vegetation fire, and wild land fire may be used to describe the same phenomenon depending on the type of vegetation being used.
A wildfire differs from other fires by its extensive size, the speed at which it can spread out from its original source, and its ability to change direction unexpectedly and to jump gaps, such as roads, rivers, and fire breaks.
Wildfires can cause the following:
Falling injuries from fleeing
Auto injuries from fleeing
Crushing injuries from collapse of burning objects
Burns from fire
Breathing injuries from heat and smoke
May also cause:
landslides from exposed soil
Societal breakdowns, power outage, transportation issues, looting
The threat of wild land fires for people living near wild land areas or using recreational facilities in wilderness areas is real.
If you are in a vehicle
Staying in your car during a fire is a dangerous measure, to be used
only in an emergency if you are caught in the fire with absolutely no
other alternative. While it may be safer than trying to run from the
fire on foot, the degree of fire intensity will impact your survival
chances--if it is a grass fire, you might be fine but if it is
inferno-like, your chances of survival are slim.
Roll up all of the car windows and close all of the air vents. Put the air-conditioning on recirculation. Leave the engine running, even when you stop.
If you are moving, drive slowly
Keep the headlights and hazards lights on. Visibility will be considerably reduced.
Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Collisions and injuries are a major hazard in low visibility; people may be panicking and possibly running on the road.
Watch for fleeing livestock and wildlife.
Use your horn if you are worried that people or animals are nearby but you cannot see them.
When you stop driving, park behind a solid structure if possible. This will help to block radiant heat, which is the killer heat.
If you cannot find a solid structure to take the heat, stop the car
in a clear area, beside the road or in a similar suitable place. Be sure
that you are nowhere near overhanging trees and branches, near
combustible material that may ignite, or anything else that will burn
Get down on the floor as low as possible. Keep below window level.
Cover up with a woolen blanket or coat. Do not use synthetics as
these will melt and cause severe burns. Cover children and reassure them
before covering yourself.
If you have water, drink it. If you have enough to spare, wet a small cloth to breathe through.
Stay in the vehicle until the main fire passes. While the fire front is crossing, resist the temptation to get out and run. Expect the following possibilities:
Engine may stall and not restart.
Air currents may rock the car.
Some smoke and sparks may enter the vehicle.
The temperature inside the car will increase. This temperature
increase may be unbearable and you, or others in the car, are at risk of
Keep reassuring others in the vehicle if you have the energy
(remember that the fire will make hearing difficult). Everyone will be
scared, and some may go into shock. If anyone panics, you will need to calm them quickly and help them resist the temptation to flee.
Get out of the car once the fire front has passed. Immediately attend to children and anyone experiencing distress or shock.
If you have a cell phone, call for help.
If the car is still operational, drive it away from the fire to safety.
If the car is no longer working, or continues to burn, walk away
from the fire and seek help. Keep well clear of burning trees (widow
makers) which can drop branches and injure or kill you.
Metal gas (petrol) tanks and containers rarely explode.
If you have to stop, park away from the heaviest trees and brush; try to stay on the open road if you cannot see anything more.
When driving, if you see smoke, turn around and drive away from it.
If/when you leave your car and there is nobody around, leave a note
visible on your vehicle telling whomever finds it that you're alright
and which direction you went.