What to do in case of a forest fire while trekking

Are you an adventurous person who loves trekking? Have you ever imagined a situation of getting trapped in a forest fire while you are on a trek? What would you do if you spot a forest fire while trekking? Here are some of the useful fire safety tips which trekkers should follow to save their life when they got stuck in a forest fire while trekking.

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.

  1. Strictly follow the rules of the forest department when you go for trekking in a forest.
  2. Set a campfire only in the allocated area and extinguish the fire completely with water after the campfire. Avoid setting a campfire if it is too windy.
  3. Avoid spilling oil, fuels or any other flammable liquid in the forest. It is advisable to avoid cooking in the forest land.
  4. Do not smoke in the forest area. Also do not throw the cigarettes, matches or any smoking materials anywhere on the forest. Disposing the cigarettes in or near forest land without extinguishing it properly may lead to a serious threat.
  5. Avoid celebrating birthday events or any fun events with candles, fireworks and other flammable products in the forest.

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.

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

  • Take an emergency kit in the backpack while going for trekking in the forest.
  • Before going for trekking, prepare an evacuation checklist and get to know the evacuation route.
  • Wear safe and protective footwear and clothing
  • Know the local emergency number and the important contact numbers of the forest management.


Author: Sarojah06 Apr 2018 Member Level: Gold   Points : 5

It is easier said 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 in TV shows, youtube etc., as trekking in wild forest in India is much different. It is better to get in touch with the forest department and also the locals if possible before adventuring into trekking before proceeding. I feel that nowadays most of the IT companies are coming up with the idea of trekking as a stress buster and hence everyone wants to give it a try. But I always prefer that one should be really interested and have the courage to go for trekking. There are many people who undertook trekking just like that like any other tourism adventures 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 same.

Guest Author: Kavita20 Mar 2021

I come back from Triund today, with my entire family (by God's grace). Some ignorant tourist burnt up an entire side of the mountain by carelessly throwing away a lit cigarette. We were stuck there and had no route to escape. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. I thought I won't make it out of there and might die. But a few good-hearted locals helped us to escape on time and we will be forever grateful to them. But when reached the bottom we saw ,that the fire had spread into three different patches because of the wind. I wonder what happened to the other tourists there, who even had small kids with them. There is no water supply there(according to locals) and so the fire could not be controlled.

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