1. Get your Caloric Intake up.
Don’t skip meals! Exhaustion is a funny thing and can curb your appetite and make you feel like you don’t need to eat. Not eating will cause you to lose energy and start to drag, always keep up with your regular meals. When out on the line, you might get a bit fatigued. It’s not a bad idea to have a light but calorie dense snack on hand. Nuts, peanut butter packets, or dried fruit are great options when out on the line.
2. Stay Light
Your bag should be light and your head clear when departing to fight wildfires. The more gear you carry in, the more you need to carry out. You don’t need to bring anything that won’t be used. The dangers of fighting wildfires can put people on edge. It is not uncommon to become frustrated and lash out, but it’s important to remember that the guys around you are going through the same struggles as you, so take the bad moods and bad jokes in stride.
3. Make Sure your Gear is in Order
Your fire pack should be properly prepared, and your greens and yellows should be ready for action. Because of the physical toll of the job, it’s important to check your clothing for any tears or worn-down sections. Equipment that is damaged should be fixed or replaced before heading out. It might not look pretty, but a fire shelter can save your life when there is no escape, so make sure you always have one packed. Finally, bring an extra pair or two of socks. No one’s feet are going to feel good at the end of the season, but changing socks frequently helps you stay comfortable on your feet.
4. Stay Injury-free
“Well duh,” I can hear you say, I guess this one should probably say prevent injuries or take your time rebuilding yourself after the season ends. Fighting fires takes a toll on your body if you don’t find the time to repair it you will be too injured to fight next year’s fires. Stretching and regular massages have been proven to reduce injury chance and are a great way to unwind. Surprisingly Yoga has become a popular and effective way to rebuild one’s body after massive exertion.
5. Prepare for the Outdoors
The worst part of wildfire season isn’t the countless hours of labor or the impossible heat, or bountiful amount of boredom, no the worst part of wildfire season is the bugs. The number of bugs you encounter and their obsession with taking a bite out of any inch of exposed skin is staggering. The good news is that you’ll be working so hard by the time you get to lunch you’ll have already sweated off all your bug spray. A good tip is to coat your gear in bug spray because it won’t wash away with your sweat. It’s also a good idea to have head net mesh during downtime.
This one doesn’t get a number because it should go without saying. Fighting wildfires means a lot of labor, a lot of heat, and not a lot of thanks. It’s easy to forget to refill your water, and it’s even easier to become dehydrated. Fighting wildfires is hard enough don’t make it harder.
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