High Wind Warning Issued for the Weekend

Guest columnist Sam DiGiovanna, Special to the Independent

Wildfires are a major concern for us beginning today, Thursday, Oct. 25, and into the weekend, according to  Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna, of Aliso Viejo.

The reason: warm temperatures with wind gusts anticipated to reach up to 60 mph in wind prone areas with relative humidity expected to be in the single digit area with little over-night recovery.

This warning applies to most all of Southern California. If a wildfire fire does develop under these conditions, anticipate a rapid rate of spread due to low fuel moisture content.

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 utility 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 are likely so remember traffic signals may be out.

Visibility may be limited from sand or dust.
Watch for obstacles that may have blown into the street.

Keep it slow and be safe!

Wildfire Fire Safety Tips Reminder:

These are just a few guidelines for creating a defensible space to help reduce the spread of wildfires. Again, be sure to check with your local and state authorities for specific regulations in your area.

  • Remove dead and overhanging branches.
  • Remove any branches within 10 feet of chimney vent.
  • Clean all dead leaves and needles from roof and gutters.
  • Install a roof that meets the fire resistance classification of Class C or better.
  • Cover chimney outlet with a nonflammable screen of 1/4 inch or smaller mesh. Guard vents are a great alternative.
  • Stack woodpiles at least 30 feet from all structures, fences, and other combustible material.
  • Remove all stacks of construction materials, pine needles, leaves and other debris.
  • Keep lawn chairs, umbrellas, and other canvas furniture a safe distance from structures
  • Clear all vegetation and other combustible or flammable materials from beneath deck area.
  • Enclose underside of elevated decks with resistant materials.
  • Refrain from dumping lawn clippings in canyons.
  • Identify at least two exit routes from your neighborhood.
  • Make sure street names and house numbers are clearly visible.
  • Designate an emergency meeting place outside your neighborhood.
  • Immediately evacuate the area when ordered by police or fire personnel.

Contact your local fire agency for fire related code and compliance ordinances in your area!

Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna lives in Aliso Viejo and is a training officer for the Glendale fire department. 


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