How to Survive a Fire 

No matter where you are at the moment at home, at work, at your yoga class, or even in the wild, unpredictable by its nature, disaster may happen. And its name is a fire. It can be a house fire, a wildfire, or a forest fire, the drastic consequences of which you can easily find on Getty images. But regardless of its name and possible repercussions, what you have to know is how to survive a fire. And here’s a list of things you have to bear in mind to get your survival under control:

House Fires

Each year around 4000 Americans die in house fires, and the number is increasing. The greatest toll falls on family members, as well as firefighters. People’s deadly mistakes in a house fire can be deterred by educating yourself on the issue and increasing your survival chances. You can check your local firefighter department website to find information on any fire safety event they are offering at the moment and send an email if you want to take part in it.

1. Know Your Way Out

Fires make people panic and cause confusion, so the first thing is to plan a few escape routes and practice them. Set a regular home fire drill, just like in school. Fire drills’ main idea is to give you information on your behavior in a real emergency and how fast each family member can find the way out of the house. Everyone should safely leave the house via any escape plan in around 3 minutes. Firefighters’ recommendations include a fire drill practice two times each year.

2. Fire Attacks

If the fire has already started, the best for you to do is not to panic, not mind getting dressed, grab a woolen blanket, and head for the nearest exit. Since rooms easily and fast get filled up with smoke, see to it that you have a wet cloth to cover your mouth and nose. Do not forget to get low on the ground since the smoke is lighter than air, and it goes up. In most cases, chances are you will have to crawl towards an exit.

As you head for the exit, close the door behind you to help prevent the fire from spreading any further. Remember: the more air is in, the faster the fire is spreading. Before opening doors in front of you, look for any smoke that might come through cracks and touch the door itself and the knob for heat. If the door or the knob is hot or warm, do not open it. Go for another door.

3. In a Tight Corner

If you’re trapped in a room, remember that a door is a protection layer, and soon it will be flaming hot with smoke coming under the door. That is why you need to be quick.

  • Report on your location to 911.
  • Use the blanket or any clothes to tuck the gaps at the door.
  • Open the window and hang out a piece of cloth of vivid color or make use of anything that could serve such purposes.
  • Stay near the window and wait for firefighters to come.

4. Stop, Drop, and Roll

If your clothes got caught on fire, then there’s a simple fire safety technique (stop, drop and roll) that children are taught at schools:

  • Put your hands over your face.
  • Drop to the floor
  • Rollback and forth until the clothes stop burning.

These movements help eliminate the flames and protect your face and respiratory system from heat and flames.

5. Preventing House Fires

Your household is a place where your memories, as well as some valuable possessions and necessary papers, are. And it is also a place that grants you peace at night, gives shelter when the weather conditions are far from best, and it is simply nice and crucial for a human being to have a roof over their head. Apart from knowing all these tips on what to do when the fire is already there, it is better to avoid such situations. Here is the list of precautions that come in handy when you want to protect your property and loved ones:

  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms installed or any other device that might track smoke or gas leakage.
  • Do not leave candles and cooking unattended.
  • If you smoke, then smoke outdoors.
  • Get fire extinguishers for each room and place them near the door.
  • Parents should talk with their children about escape plans. It is better to have a few options.
  • Check with your insurance over damage coverage.
  • Do not keep any inflammable compounds inside, especially if these rooms are never properly ventilated.


The number of wildfires is increasing each year. In 2017 around 10 million acres were burnt down during around 70,000 fires. When on a wildlife adventure, people rarely check the information on a local website on how fire-prone is the land they are going to in a specific season of a year. This thought seldom enters people’s heads, but around 300,000 people die each year in a wildfire. Here are a few tips on how to make you way out in a wildfire:

1. Caught at Home

Although “mi casa es su casa” is quite a well-known saying, you will never say it to a wildfire that reaches the place where you live. To survive in such a situation, the first steps you have to make are the following:

  • Call 911 and let them know your location.
  • Fill any container with water, be it a tub, a sink, or a bucket.
  • Remove any curtains, shut but not lock all windows and doors.
  • Do not get frightened when your smoke alarms start blasting out.
  • Wet the building and adjacent areas with hoses or sprinkles.
  • Stay indoors and away from windows and exterior walls.

2. Caught in a Car

What to do if flames are approaching and you’re stuck in your car in the middle of nowhere? You might turn on the radio to get the latest news on the natural disaster’s movements. Make sure you do not waste any single minute and follow these tips:

  • Park your car as far away as any vegetation as possible.
  • The doors have to be shut.
  • Close all windows and air vents.
  • Cover yourself with a thick piece of clothing.
  • Drop on the floor of the car.
  • Call 911 and tell them your location.

3. Caught in a Forest Fire

It is good when you have practiced home drills and have a map of all escape routes or avast vehicles to get you away from danger, but what if you are in the open, far away from home and your vehicle? Then follow these recommendations:

  • Try to get a safe spot as fast as possible. It has to be near water, and in an area with no vegetation, it can be a ravine or a ditch.
  • Cover your face with wet clothing to prevent inhaling smoke, and take care of your body by covering it with mud if there’s nothing else.
  • Call 911, report on your location, and wait till a natural disaster passes by.
  • In case your clothes are in flames, use the technique “stop, drop and roll” described above.

Ground Rules

When any dangerous situation arises, the first and foremost rule you have to stick to is to remain calm. Confusion is the main factor responsible for an increasing number of deaths under life-threatening conditions. Remember that your calmness may save lives and help the professionals to deal with the problem easier and faster.

The second ground rule is your knowledge of primary care. In any case, whether you’re caught in the wild or at home, you might get burnt, and you should know how to treat them correctly. Not all burns can be treated at home, and eventually, you might need medical assistance. Still, appropriate first aid helps prevent infection, controls pain, reduces scarring risks, and helps keep the burnt area’s function.

Survivalist Checklist

Here is the guideline you have to follow in case of burns:

  • Hold burnt area under cold running water for about 10 minutes.
  • Remove all jewelry if there is any.
  • Do not use ice as it might cause even more damage to the tissue.
  • Do not apply butter or any ointments. Instead, apply a lotion containing aloe vera or a moisturizer.
  • Bandage the burn with a sterile gauze bandage (no cotton wool allowed).
  • Avoid putting any pressure on a wound.
  • Do not try to remove any burnt clothes on your own.

The third ground rule is to find a way to tell the authorities and first responders your estimated or exact location. You should be able to send a distress signal via any possible way, either calling or hanging a colorful piece of clothing out the window.


As you can see, to survive in a fire, not only should you be reading articles with step-by-step guides but also educate yourself with all information available on the issue and have some practice as home drills. This will help prevent confusion anyone may get when faced with such jeopardy. To prevent the drastic events, it is highly recommended to take the precautions described above and pay attention to the forecast if you are going away, particularly if you go to an area prone to fires.

We hope that this little guide makes you feel a little bit safer and more prepared for anything there is to come. And remember, survival is always a question of life and death, and it depends on your preparation.


A former USA Army sergeant and a highly educated survivalist and prepper with a degree and interest in Engineering and Electronics, Mike Millerson applies his extensive expertise in survivalism, homesteading, backpacking, hiking and hunting, spreading his deep knowledge about handling emergencies and prepping for them reasonably and effectively.




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