What is a Red Flag Warning?
As wildfires burn across California, several areas, including Los Angeles County, have also been given a Red Flag Warning. But what does that really mean for LA residents and property owners? And are there things you can do to help prevent fires from spreading in your area?
What Does a Red Flag Warning Mean?
A Red Flag Warning means take action. They are issued by the National Weather Service when the potential for fires in a given area is at its peak. Typically, that means sustained winds, high temperatures and low humidity.
Dry heat is, of course, a pretty typical Los Angeles day, which is why the threat of wildfires has become a constant. The winds are the primary variable, and when the Santa Ana winds are blowing (as they are now, thanks in part to El Niño), small sparks can easily ignite into a blaze.
What is a Fire Weather Watch?
A Fire Weather Watch means that there is the potential for wildfire conditions, but that weather is not considered "imminent or occurring." Property owners should still be prepared and vigilant.
How to Prevent Fires During Red Flag Warnings & Watches
When your area is under a Red Flag Warning or Fire Weather Watch, it is vital to prepare your property for wildfires.
Important steps include:
Having an evacuation plan
Cleaning gutters, roofs and yards of debris such as dry leaves, twigs and branches
Moving flammable liquids like gas cans and tanks of propane away from your home
Checking that garden hoses, pressure washers and fire extinguishers are functional and accessible
If wildfires are burning in your general vicinity, keep windows and doors closed and, if possible, reduce the use of HVAC systems like central A/C and heat to prevent smoke and soot from entering your home.
Ultimately, the most important thing is the safety of you and your family. Head mandatory evacuation orders and stay up to date on the latest conditions by subscribing to alerts or following the Los Angeles Fire Department on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.