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By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

December 31, 2018 (San Diego) -- 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 their own, even without fires. Please follow the below safety tips:

Wind Safety Tips:

  • The safest place to be 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. Treat ALL downed wires as if they are energized! 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.

In Case of a Wildfire:

If by chance you are near a wildfire, you may be asked to evacuate. Here are some things you should know if you find yourself in that situation:

When should I leave?

  • It is wise to leave the area as soon as an evacuation is recommended. This will help you avoid being caught in a fire, smoke or traffic. This will also help firefighters keep roads clear, which allows them to work without obstacles.

Where should I go?

  • Call your friends or family who live outside the threatened area and see if they can offer you a place to stay during the evacuation. Your local fire department or city officials will also have designated evacuation shelters.

What should I take with me?

  • Prepare an emergency kit well before a fire strikes. This kit should include things like a first aid kit, a three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person, spare keys and cash and medication. If time allows, then you should pack easily carried valuables, chargers for your cell phones and laptops, and anything irreplaceable such as family photos.

What about my cat, dog, bird, lizard, etc.?

  • Ask friends and family if they can shelter your animals during an emergency. Keep a list of 24-hour numbers for pet-friendly places such as animal shelters, pet boarding facilities and veterinarians.

What should I wear?

  • If you need to go outside while there is an active fire nearby, put on some protective clothing like sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothes, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and gloves.

Be safe and think “situational awareness at all times!