In today’s installment of 1,001 ways to die in your RV, we will look at forest fires. Wildfires, whether caused by natural occurrences such as lightning, or by human actions of carelessness, or arson, coupled with bad forest management, are a fast-moving and unpredictable threat.
The motto “OK” (orientation, knowledge) rings especially true for wildfires. Know your surroundings, and know what to do.
In being prepared for any sudden emergency, know your surrounding area, and have a preferred exit plan. Understand that wildfires can travel very fast. Understand that you may need to change your plans.
When escaping a wildfire on foot, run as low as possible, since smoke rises. Cover your nose with a wet cloth. Run towards the wind, or if you seem trapped, towards a body of water. Narrow creeks, with overhanging trees, will offer little protection. Avoid canyons or ridges, as this is where the winds will carry the fire.
The most dangerous places to be, near a wildfire, are uphill or downwind of the fire. Always try to stay upwind of the fire, but not uphill. Seek barren non-flammable terrain. If caught in a wildfire, lay face-down in a low area and try to cover yourself with a wet blanket, mud, or dirt. Try to keep your clothes dry, however, since wet clothing could scald you.
If fleeing a wildfire in an RV or a vehicle, close all windows and air vents. Vehicles tend to be safer than RVs, which are much more flammable. If driving through smoke, drive slowly and safely. If you can’t see through the smoke, it is usually safer to park and wait. Gas tanks rarely burn unless the vehicle is burning, but shut off any propane tanks if you have time. If you must stop your vehicle, park as far away from trees and heavy brush as possible. Again, seek non-flammable terrain. Remain in your vehicle, as it will be much safer inside than outside. It may get very hot inside. Lay as low as possible and cover yourself with a blanket, floor mats, or whatever to block some of the heat.
About 90% of wildfires are caused by man, so don’t be the one who causes the disaster. Make sure your campfire location is at least 15 feet away from your RV, tent, or any combustible vegetation. Keep your campfire to a manageable size. Never leave your campfire unattended. Before leaving your campfire, pour water over it, and cover it with dirt so the coals are completely extinguished. Never toss cigarettes or shoot fireworks near a combustible forest.