Forest in the gorge of Samaria in Crete

Traveling and forest fires in Greece

Prevention and protection tips

Going on a trip in the Greek nature is one of the best ways to let go of your everyday troubles, discover secret spots, exercise, and meet the grandeur of the country. Whether you’re going hiking on a Greek island or you’re exploring the mountains of mainland Greece, it’s important to be familiar with the basic forest fire prevention and protection tips.

This way, we protect the flora and fauna of our planet, to continue enjoying its natural beauty again and again.

Forest in Samothrace, Greece

Impressive mountain in Samothrace

How to prevent a wildfire during your trip in Greece

The most important advice you need to keep in mind to avoid starting a wildfire is to be in harmony with your surroundings and respect nature.

Here are 8+1 tips to safely enjoy the Greek forests:

  1. Avoid having a BBQ and lighting fires in forest areas, particularly during the summer, even if you’re located near the coast.
  2. If you need to light a fire to stay warm, make sure you clean the area from leaves and twigs, make a fire pit, place stones and rocks around the fire, and refrain from using pine cones as kindling.
  3. Don’t throw cigarettes on the forest floor. Actually, don’t throw anything on the forest floor.
  4. Don’t leave fire unattended; the same goes for candles.
  5. Pick up your trash before leaving the forest. If you spot any rubbish while in the forest area, you can collect it or inform the authorities to remove larger items.
  6. Don’t use machinery that can produce sparks.
  7. Make sure you park your car in a clean area without dry weeds, as the car heat can cause a fire.
  8. Have a look at the forest fire protection guidelines provided by the General Secretariat for Civil Protection.

Extra Tip: There are many groups and organizations that arrange forest cleaning activities to pick up dry weeds, trash and other flammable materials. You can join them or grab a beer and go clean your favorite green area in Greece with your fellow travelers.

Milies beach in Alonissos

The lush forest at Milies beach in Alonissos

What to bring with you in a Greek forest

If you’re planning a day trip or multi-day retreat in the forest, you need to be aware of the challenges, safety rules, as well as the means of fire prevention and response.

Moreover, we recommend that you bring with you some essentials that will help make your trip enjoyable and come in handy in case a fire breaks out:

  • Water
  • Towels
  • First-aid kit with gauze, bandages, healing cream, masks, and more useful drugs and supplies for your stay in nature
  • Fire extinguisher (stored in your car)
  • Phone, charger and power bank
  • Printed map and compass
  • Torch

What to do if you spot a forest fire

No matter how basic it sounds, it’s important to remain alert when camping, driving or hiking in the forest. Nature may be calm and hospitable, but it can become dangerous fast if you’re not aware of your surroundings.

If you see smoke or smell something burning, you need to call the Hellenic Fire Service immediately at phone number 199.

You will inform them of your location, the extent of the fire, the type of vegetation in the area, as well as more useful details that will help put out the fire faster.

Important: If there’s no signal, try calling the European emergency number 112 instead.

If you have established visual contact with the fire and it’s still small, you can try putting it out by pouring lots of water, hitting with a large tree branch or stepping hard on it after placing a towel or other cover.

Attention: The instructions above refer exclusively to putting out or restricting small fires before they spread. Do not try to battle a fire without guidelines from the fire department.

Also, remember to cover your mouth and nose with a wet cloth, to keep safe from the smoke.

In any case, if the fire starts spreading, it’s paramount that you head to the nearest road or upwind and wait for assistance.

Olive grove in Lesbos

Hiking through an olive grove in Lesbos

How you can help with forest fires in Greece

You can contribute to forest protection in Greece by attending a forest cleaning or reforestation trip. These events are frequently organized by state bodies or independent parties. You can also learn more about becoming a volunteer firefighter.

Furthermore, consider searching on social media for calls regarding accommodating wildfire victims or stray/injured animals at your place for a few days, and make a donation to groups helping people left homeless due to the fire or are in need of food, medicine and clothes.

Let’s all protect forests, show solidarity to animals and humans, and enjoy Greek nature!