Saturday, March 23, 2013

Escape a forest fire when hiking when children

Forest fire in Angeles National Forest,
autumn 2009.
With global warming and current land management practices in national forests and parks, the threat of forest fires continues to grow, particularly in the West. Do not hike through any area where a forest fire is occurring, especially to “see” the fire. Besides being dangerous, it will be an unpleasant experience as you find smoke choking you.

Sometimes fires begin while you’re already on the trail. If you see or smell smoke (and it’s clearly not just a campfire), immediately return to your vehicle – presuming the fire isn’t between you and it – and leave the area. If you are cut off from your vehicle, find the quickest route to a road that is in the opposite direction of the fire and seek help.

If there’s no way to escape flames – and be forewarned that forest fires can move faster than you can run – lie face down on the barest patch of ground you can find and cover yourself with soil. Put your mouth to the soil, breathing through it rather than your nostrils or the air.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.