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One of the wonderful things about living in California is the weather. However, that weather can also bring up some dangerous conditions, especially when you find yourself dealing with the Santa Ana winds. The Santa Ana winds are very dry winds that mostly affect Southern California in the fall and winter. Depending on the time of year, they can run warm or cool, but tend to be biggest during the hot, dry weather that comes in autumn. Unfortunately, due to California’s notorious drought, those winds have become even more dangers, so there are a few things to be aware of as the Santa Ana winds kick up once again.

Fanning Flames
California has already had a terribly difficult fire season, but the Santa Ana Winds could make that season continue long into the fall and winter months. The winds are well known for fanning California’s wildfires and can really kick up with the hot, dry air that wildfires seem to love. With the fire danger already quite high in California, it’s important to know the fire safety precautions for your area, discuss fire safety with your family and be ready, should a terrible emergency occur.

Oceanic Impact
The Santa Ana winds can also kick up some big ocean waves, usually from the northeast. Normally calm harbors can suddenly become high surf areas with strong winds that have the power to rip boats from the shore. If you’re considering hitting the beach, be sure to check the forecast to make certain that the conditions are safe and that you won’t end up in a truly dangerous situation. If the local forecast calls for high winds or you have conditions with high surf, it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry.

Wind Gusts
Of course, sometimes it’s just the winds themselves that cause all the damage. The Santa Ana winds can create some very high gusts, sometimes topping out at more than 80 miles per hour. Those gusts can be strong enough to knock down trees, traffic signals and power lines, which can be quite dangerous to anyone in the area. Not only do you risk being without power due to these high wind gusts, but if you’re anywhere outside when a strong wind kicks up, you can physically be in a dangerous situation. Make sure – especially if the winds are very high – that you stay far away from any power lines and find a central area of your home (away from windows) to wait out the gusts. You may never have a problem, but it’s always best to be prepared.

Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.