What are Red Flag Warnings?
The National Weather Service (NWS) issues Red Flag Warnings & Fire Weather Watches to alert fire departments and land management agencies about the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and fuel moisture conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity. This could be due to low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, or any combination thereof.
A Red Flag warning is issued when the above conditions are expected to be met within the next 24 hours. A fire weather watch is issued when the above conditions are expected to be met during the next 24 to 48 hours. Typically, these watches and warnings are issued at the same time the routine fire weather forecasts are issued, 7:30 AM and 3:30 PM Local Time.
In the next few days, weeks and months we’ll certainly be hearing more about ‘Red Flag’ Warnings and Alerts!
Homeowners and residents can take a proactive approach to dealing with Wildfires by practicing some simple guidelines.
· Roofs should be made of noncombustible material, use a “Class A” fire-resistive material
· Trees need to be trimmed away from the roof and 10 feet away from the chimney
· Plants should be low growing and less combustible
· Combustible materials should be stored away from the home
· Make sure the yard is well trimmed and free of debris
· Roof and gutters should be cleaned of leaves and pine needles
· Make sure there is a 100-foot non-combustible fire break surrounding your home of hazardous vegetation
· Make sure an adequate water supply is available to fight fire
· Be sure good access is provided for emergency vehicles
· Make sure your home can be well identified
· Clear all combustible materials from within 10 feet of driveway and access roads
· Plant vegetation should be kept away from windows and inside corners
· Water and maintain vegetation, remove dead materials
· Install double-pane tempered glass windows
· Install a spark arrestor
· Remove combustible furniture, stacked firewood, papers away from home and ensure propane and butane tanks are a minimum of 10 feet from structure
· Obtain additional Fire safety information from your local fire department
Before a wildfire strikes:
· Know where your gas, electric and water main shut-off controls are and how to use them.
· Become familiar with your community’s disaster-preparedness plans and create a family plan.
· Plan several escape routes from your home and neighborhood and designate an emergency meeting place.
· Put together an emergency kit.
· Ensure you follow your local fire code and adhere to its brush compliance program
During a wildfire:
· Listen to your portable radio for reports and evacuation information.
· Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
· Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked.
· Confine pets to one room.
· Arrange temporary housing.
· When advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
· Wear protective clothing.
· Take your emergency kit.
· Lock your home.
· Follow the evacuation route that your local officials have identified.
After the Fire Considerations
Replacing Valuable Documents and Records
Below is a checklist of documents that are commonly lost in a fire. Under the type of document is the institution or agency to contact for a replacement.
Financial Records Contact:
· Bank books
Your bank, as soon as possible
· Credit cards
The issuing companies, as soon as possible
· Income tax records
The Internal Revenue Service Center where you filed or notify your accountant
· Stocks and bonds
Issuing company or your broker
Identification and Licenses:
· Driver’s license
Local office of the Dept. Motor Vehicles
Local passport office
· Birth, death, marriage certificates
State bureau of records in the state of birth, death or marriage
· Citizenship papers
The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
· Divorce papers
Circuit court where decree was issued
· Military discharge papers
Local office of the Veterans Administration
· Social Security or Medicare cards
Local Social Security Office
· Auto registration title
Department of Motor Vehicles
· Titles to deeds
Records department of city or county in which the property is located
· Prepaid burial contracts
· Animal registration papers
Society of registry
· Insurance policies
Your insurance agent
· Medical records