With warmer weather this season and much warmer weather coming later, the National Weather Service could likely issue Red Flag Warnings not just in the Southwest United States, but also up here in the Twin Tiers. What is a Red Flag Warning though, and what should people do to keep themselves safe?

According to the National Weather Service, a Red Flag Warning means a combination of warm temperatures, very low humidity, and stronger winds, which produces an increased risk of fire danger. A well-known example of a Red Flag Warning was issued during the September 2020 wildfires in the northwestern United States. The drier it is outside and the higher the wind gusts, the greater the chance a wildfire can spread. Red Flag Warnings are typically shown as counties highlighted in magenta on a weather map, and can be found directly on the National Weather Service’s home page.

If your area is under risk of a Red Flag Warning, be sure to avoid discarding cigarettes or matches on the ground as they may ignite dry grass on the side of the road and become a wildfire. If wildfires are present, extinguish them properly. Drown fires with plenty of water and stir to make sure everything is cold to the touch. Dunk charcoal in water until cold, but do not throw charcoal on the ground and leave it. It is also important to never leave a fire unattended. Sparks and ember can blow and spread into leaves or grass, igniting an even larger fire.