What is a forest fire?A forest fire is a sudden uncontrolled fire which rapidly spread and burns the flora and fauna in the forest. It is one serious disaster which causes high devastation to the environment and the humans. It is said that forest fires are so extreme with high temperature and also has the capacity to reach more height. Forest fire occurs due to natural causes like lightning and volcanic eruption. But human activities such as smoking, burning debris, campfires, usage of fireworks inside the forest are the major causes of wildfires.
A small spark of fire is enough to burn an entire forest. The widespread forest fire leads to a loss of biodiversity, air pollution, forest degradation, soil degradation and also will have a serious impact on the health and life of the animals, birds, and humans who got trapped in a forest fire.
How to prevent a forest fire?Since human activities are the major reasons for a forest fire, the humans who go for camping or trekking in a forest should be more cautious and responsible. Prevention is better than cure. So, the trekkers must follow some of the below mentioned preventive measures to avoid a forest fire.
What to do when trapped in a forest fire while trekking?Trekking is one of the most adventurous and interesting outdoor hobbies for many people especially the nature lovers and the ones who love to have a break from their stressful work life. In the middle of your trek in a forest, what would you do if you encounter a sudden forest fire and get trapped? To handle such disasters one should have a prior knowledge on how to plan for a safe trekking and must get to know more details about the dangers of trekking.
We cannot predict and control a forest fire easily. The speed of the forest fire varies from forest to forest depending upon their land and vegetation. Generally, fire spreads rapidly in grasslands, steep slopes, and shrub lands. So, when you go for trekking be prepared to face the unpredictable disaster like the forest fire.
Listed below are some of the evacuation tips the trekkers should follow when they are trapped in a forest fire.
1. Report a fire : When you spot a forest fire, then immediately report the situation to the forest management. Contacting the emergency services or the land management as soon as possible will help the firefighters to stop and control the fire. Most importantly sending early information saves the life of many.
2. Avoid inhaling smoke : Forest fire creates excess smoke and the carbon-monoxide which is present in the smoke is too hazardous. Inhaling the smoke released from wildfires may cause a serious threat especially to children and the people who suffer from heart problems and respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma. So, when you encounter a fire, then immediately cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or a scarf to protect yourself from the smoke. In case of a thick smoke, breathing into a moist cloth help to avoid inhaling smoke.
3. Move towards a safe land : When you spot a forest fire, then immediately move towards an open land, rocky areas, water bodies or any areas that have already burnt. Avoid staying on the steep slopes, grassland, areas with a lot of wooden logs and wood debris. We cannot imagine the speed of the fire spread. So, it is always advisable to move far away from the fire as soon as possible to protect yourself and save your life.
4. Cover yourself and lie on the ground : In case of a blaze, do not run in haste. Instead cover yourself with a blanket, a wet cloth, soil or any cloth of thick material and lie close to the ground with face down. Lying in a low ditch or submerging into water bodies is more advisable. Dampening the clothes and covering the entire body with soil helps to protect from extreme heat. While lying close to the ground, try to avoid inhaling smoke by covering your nose and mouth.
5. Extinguish the fire, if possible : Extinguishing wildfire is extremely dangerous and a tough task. One can try to extinguish the small fire by chopping down small trees or can use heavy blankets or sand to suffocate the flames. But remember to stay careful while extinguishing the fire because flames can surround you at any time. So, it is highly advisable to move away from the location where there is a heavy risk.
Precautions to be followed before trekking
It is easy to say than done. I have seen forest fire many times and it is not that easy to escape from forest fire while trekking especially in Indian conditions. My suggestion is, do not get into the ideas of videos available from foreign trekking available everywhere in TVs, youtube etc., as trekking in wild forest in India is much different with the population of poverty who might not aware much of the difficulties when they do forest fire for their livelihood and even trekkers may not understand this situation. So it is better to have in touch with forest department before adventuring into trekking and also the locals if possible before proceeding on to the trekking. I feel nowadays most of the IT companies are coming up with the idea of trekking as stress free and hence every one wanted to give a try but I always prefer if someone is really interested and have the courage to go for trekking only should try and not with this kind of ideas of stress breaker and that is why there are many mushrooming trekking centres available now.
Also, I feel author got this idea for an article with the recent forest fire happened in TN and there are many people who just like that performed trekking like any other tourism for the celebration of 100 days of marriage, trekking organized by their companies etc.,
So before going for trekking, one should go for counseling with the best people in the field and then only plan for the trekking.