Here’s What You Should Do if You Get Trapped by a Wildfire

California Connection
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A home burns as the River Fire moves through the area on July 31, 2018 in Lakeport, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Maybe there were evacuation orders that you failed to heed. Or maybe you didn’t get any warnings at all, and suddenly find yourself trapped by a fast-moving wildfire.

Either way, the choices you make when an inferno approaches could help save your life.

Here’s what you should do depending on your location, courtesy of Cal Fire:

If you’re in your car:

— Stay calm and call 911.

— Park your vehicle in an area clear of vegetation.

— Close all vehicle windows and vents.

— If you have a cotton or wool blanket or jacket, cover yourself with it. Why? “To try and deflect some of the radiant heat off of you,” Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean said.

— Lie on the floor of your vehicle.

If you’re at home:

— Keep your family together and call 911.

— Fill sinks and tubs with cold water. “As a fire comes through, you will more than likely lose power, which in turn will cause the pump from your well not to function,” McLean said. “This is a way to stock up on water.”

— Keep doors and windows closed but unlocked.

— Stay inside your house.

— Stay away from outside walls and windows.

If you’re stuck outside:

— Call 911, of course.

— Try to find a place free from vegetation, such as a ditch or depression on level ground.

— Lie face down and cover your body. “You want to protect your airway,” McLean said. “That is what the leading cause of death in a fire is — that you inhale those hot gases produced by a fire, and they compromise your airway.”

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