Red Flag Warning a Reminder to Get Wildfire Ready

January 14, 2014 | 10:02am

With San Diego starting the year threatening to break high temperature records and under a red-flag warning, the County is reminding residents to prepare for this Santa Ana episode and for future dangerous conditions.

Expected gusty Santa Ana winds and dry, warm weather in the San Diego mountains and valleys have prompted weather officials to issue a red-flag warning to residents through 6 p.m. Wednesday.  The warning means forecasters predict conditions in which fires could spark easily and spread quickly. 

The National Weather Service says the winds will create critical fire weather conditions since a lack of rainfall has resulted in drier than normal vegetation conditions in San Diego County for this time of year. The communities of North Descanso, Boulder Creek, Lake Cuyamaca, Santa Ysabel, Mesa Grande, Crestwood, La Posta, Eastern Valley Center and Hellhole Canyon are expected to have wind gusts of 55 mph or greater, according to forecasters.

Fire officials recommend residents maintain a minimum of 100 feet of defensible space throughout the year since San Diego is considered to have a year-round fire season. But just before or once winds get hot and dry, it is not recommended to begin clearing with a mower or weedcutter because they can accidentally spark a fire.

Here are some things residents can do instead:  

  • Remove debris including dried leaves, firewood stacks, or trash from around the home. This includes leaves on their roof and in gutters.
  • Trim away any tree branches that overhang on your home and cut low branches on trees.
  • Dried out bushes or plants should also be pruned or removed.
  • All tree or shrub clippings would need to be cleaned up and disposed of in a bin.

Additionally, residents should be alert and that means staying informed.

Download our newly improved SD Emergency app from the Google Play store or the Apple App Store. If you had previously downloaded it before last December, you will be prompted to reinstall it on your phone or tablet device. The app provides news updates, maps, shelter locations and includes disaster planning templates and interactive checklists.

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

Complete a family disaster plan template from the app or from ReadySanDiego.org to help your family plan for an emergency including where to meet if you are separated and cannot return home.

You can also stay in touch with official emergency information by registering for AlertSanDiego, the County’s cell phone notification service. By doing that, you will receive any emergency messages that apply to your neighborhood on your cell phone.

As an incentive to get people to prepare, Target and the Office of Emergency Services are currently running a promotion to give away a two-person tent to the first 3,000 residents who download or reinstall the SDEmergency app, complete a family disaster plan and register for AlertSanDiego. For details, go here.

To find more information about safeguarding your home from wildfires and general disaster preparation, visit ReadySanDiego.org.