By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
October generally brings our Santa Ana winds. Many feel that with recent rain, our fire season is over. That is so far from the truth reminds Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Fire season is year-round, and we are approaching the height of fire season. Two to three days of a Santa Ana wind, and fuels will be bone dry and ripe to burn.
Fire Danger is not the only hazard we have to concern ourselves with during High Winds and Red Flag Warnings. Strong winds can cause considerable damage on them even without fires. Please follow the below safety tips.
Wind Safety Tips:
The safest place to during high winds is indoors.
Watch for flying debris. Tree limbs may break and street signs may become loose during strong wind gusts. Keep an eye toward nearby balconies for loose objects that may fall.
Take cover next to a building or under a shelter. Stand clear of roadways or train tracks, as a gust may blow you into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
Report downed lines. Do not try to free lines or to remove debris yourself.
Avoid anything that may be touching downed lines, including vehicles or tree branches and chain link fences. Puddles can conduct electricity in some cases. Warn others to stay away.
Do not touch anyone who has been shocked who may be in direct or indirect contact with a power line. You may become a second victim. Get medical attention as quickly as possible by calling 911.
When driving, keep both hands on the wheel and slow down. Watch for objects blowing across the roadway and into your path. Falling tree limbs and branches may be in the roadway.
Keep a safe distance from cars in adjacent lanes as strong gusts could push a car outside its lane of travel.
Take extra care in a high-profile vehicle such as a truck, van, SUV, or when towing a trailer, as these are more prone to be pushed or even flipped by high wind gusts.
If winds are severe enough to prevent safe driving, get onto the shoulder of the road and stop, making sure you are away from trees or other tall objects that could fall onto your vehicle. Stay in the car and turn on the hazard lights until the wind subsides.
If a line falls on your car, stay inside the vehicle. Take care not to touch any of the metal frame of your vehicle. Do not exit the car until help arrives, unless it catches on fire. To exit, open the door, but do not step out. Jump, without touching any of the metal portions of the car’s exterior, to safe ground and get quickly away.
Power outages may be eminent so remember traffic signals may be out so pay extra attention.
Visibility may be limited from sand/dust.
Watch for obstacles that may have blown into the street.
Keep it slow and be safe!