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Climate and Environment

Heat, Low Humidity And Gusty Winds Have Us At High Fire Risk Already

A map of Southern California from Ventura County to Orange County shows inland areas in shades of red, indicating severely low humidity.
Minimum relative humidity across L.A. and Ventura Counties on Friday was in single digits for much of the inland areas, raising fire concerns.
(Courtesy National Weather Service)
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If you’re thinking of hosting a backyard barbecue this weekend, hold off on those coals. There’s an increased risk for wildfires in Los Angeles County’s inland, valley and mountain areas, according to the National Weather Service — so you’re going to want to refrain from any activities that could cause a spark.

Brian Adams, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says fire conditions come from a combination of three factors:

  • Hotter temperatures
  • Lower humidity
  • Gusty winds

He says typically, peak fire season would be a couple of months from now, but it’s coming a little earlier this year.
“With the ongoing drought right now it you kind of add more of a buffer on to either side of the beginning and end of fire season," Adams said. "So we can effectively consider at high fire [risk] at this point.”

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Adams noted that when it comes to humidity levels "generally anything below 20% is where we started getting really, really concerned."

He said the current warning, for example, came as meteorologists looked "at relative humidity of around 6 to 12%."

For anyone living in areas at risk for fire, Adams suggests packing a “go bag” with batteries, charging devices, electronics, and non-perishable food, in case an evacuation is ordered.

The NWS says the gusty winds will die down a bit Sunday, but the weather will remain warm and dry, and fire conditions will continue through Wednesday.

What To Do When It's Dangerously Hot

That high heat making fires more likely also brings with it other risks. We have some tips and advice for how to stay safe when the thermometer hits the 90s and triple digits.

Staying safe in the heat
    • Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink water or electrolyte-replacements
    • Drink cool water, not extremely cold water (which can cause cramps)
    • Avoid sweetened drinks, caffeine, and alcohol
  • Protect a pet from excessive heat

    • Never leave a pet or animal in a garage
    • Never leave a pet or animal in a vehicle
    • Never leave a pet or animal in the sun
    • Provide shade
    • Provide clean drinking water
  • Protect a human from excessive heat

  • Check in frequently with family, friends, and neighbors. Offer assistance or rides to those who are sick or have limited access to transportation. And give extra attention to people most at risk, including:

    • Elderly people (65 years and older)
    • Infants
    • Young children
    • People with chronic medical conditions
    • People with mental illness
    • People taking certain medications (i.e.: "If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot," says the CDC)
Tips to stay cool
    • Kiddie pool
    • Lotions in the fridge
    • Eat spicy foods in the basement (or on the floor) while wearing a damp shirt and listening to the rain setting on your white noise machine
    • Make sure ceiling fans are running counterclockwise
    • Wet paper towels. Fold into ankle and wrist cuffs. Freeze. Wear. Repeat.
    • Build a DIY AC
    • Build a mini cold air fan
    • Build an "evaporative cooler for immediate heat relief"
    • Make a barricade of fans and ice cubes
    • Go to an air-conditioned store and browse for as long as possible (Target is a good option for this).
    • Close all the curtains, preferably the heat-absorbing kind
    • Or open all the windows, depending on the breeze situation
    • Cool bath or shower twice a day
    • Wash your sheets before bed but don't dry them — put them on your bed damp (provided you're dealing with a dry heat)
    • Portable A/C unit

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