Red Flag Warning Issued: Residents Should Be Prepared

October 25, 2012 | 10:16am

Gusty Santa Ana winds and dry, warm weather expected over the next few days mean the County and fire agencies are on heightened alert for fire danger—and residents should be too.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the region’s mountains and inland valleys starting at 2a.m. Friday morning and lasting through 2 p.m. Saturday.

A Red Flag warning means forecasters are predicting conditions in which fires could spark easily and spread quickly. Forecasters say that northeast to east winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts of 55 mph in the foothills, valleys and mountains will combine with humidity as low as 5 percent and warm temperatures over the next few days.

County Office of Emergency Services Director Holly Crawford says a Red Flag warning triggers a heightened state of awareness and readiness for the first responder community and County staff. Residents are encouraged to stay alert and get ready too.

 “Review and update your family disaster plan; and restock your home emergency kits, if needed, to maintain your family’s preparedness in the event of a fire,” Crawford said.

One key component of of a family disaster plan is designating a family meeting place outside of your immediate neighborhood in case your family is separated during a disaster or when an evacuation order is issued for your neighborhood.

Although cooler temperatures and rain last weekend provided a break from a long dry period with above average temperatures, fire officials have said backcountry vegetation is drying out quickly and will reach critically dry levels this weekend. Hot days and humidity levels between 5 and 13 percent mean vegetation will spark easily. Residents should refrain from using power mowers and other equipment that could start a fire.

The Office of Emergency Services will be monitoring round-the-clock and will stand ready to coordinate a regional emergency response and disseminate critical emergency information to the public.

To make sure you and your family are informed and prepared for a wildfire, visit ReadySanDiego.org.

While you’re there, make sure you register your cell phone with AlertSanDiego. By doing that, you will receive any reverse 911 messages that apply to your neighborhood on your cell phone.

If a regional emergency, such as a wildfire, does occur, new updates and other information will be posted at sdcountyemergency.com.

Residents with Android phones or iPhones are urged to get the County’s new free mobile app, SD Emergency. The app has interactive checklists and lots of information to help you make sure you’re prepared for a fire or any emergency. And, if you’ve got the app on your phone, you’ll be automatically alerted when an emergency occurs in the region, and throughout the emergency, the app will provide news updates, maps, shelter locations and other critical information.

Visit the SD Emergency app page to download the app from the Google Play store or the Apple App Store.

Below: National Weather Service wind predictions