Wildfire Survival Tips

As the first major wildfires of 2009 claim lives and property in Oklahoma and Texas, and outdoorsmen across the country head into the wild in search of turkeys and trout, now's the time to remind ourselves of 8 crucial keys to surviving these devastating natural disasters.
Get Out: You need to leave the area immediately. Do not wait around to see how things develop. If for some reason you can't follow rule number one, it's still possible to survive, but only if you're very lucky and do everything else exactly right.
Think Ahead: Because prevention is always better than cure, the first safety measure is to be aware of the dangers. Before you set out on a hunt or a fishing trip, check with the local Forest Service about the current fire hazard. When temperatures are high, humidity is low and the undergrowth is tinder-dry, it doesn't take much for a wildfire to get started. If possible, arrange to take your trip in an area that is not presenting a high fire hazard.
Plan Your Escape: The next step is to maintain situational awareness. At all times during your outing, be aware of your surroundings. Plan escape routes and identify safe zones--places where you could take shelter if a fire came roaring through. Safe zones include rivers and lakes (get in the water) and large level spots that are out in the open and well away from combustible material, such as thick vegetation, grass or even ground litter. Because heat rises, the safest zones are those that are downhill of the fire.
Drop Everything: If you are trapped above a fire, drop everything and get out as fast as you can. Don't try to save any of your gear: Gear is replaceable, your life is not.
Look for an escape route that leads downhill, but do not follow canyons, chutes or draws, as these can act as blast-furnace chimneys that funnel deadly heat up the hill toward you. Avoid saddles--they act as natural funnels.
Look for A Low Spot: If the flames are upon you, head for low ground--perhaps a ditch or the notch in a forest road--that will allow the superheated convective current to pass overhead.
Brace For Heat: Protect your respiratory tract from the hot gases by facing away from the heat source while inhaling. If you can reach an area that has already burned out and where there is no residual fuel left to reignite, that might be a safe place. But expect the ambient temperature of the scorched earth, rocks and timber to feel as hot as an oven.
Look Up: Watch for standing deadfall snags (aka widow makers) that could fall on you.
Watch For Smoke: If you are above the fire but close to a ridge, seek safety on the lee side of the mountain. The fire will race up the hill toward you, but it will generally make much slower progress downhill on the other side of the ridge. However, watch for smoke coming from beyond the ridge; if there is a secondary fire on the lee side of the mountain, you'll face it coming uphill toward you.

Eight keys to surviving an encounter with a wildfire.