Weather is one of the most significant factors in determining the spread rate and intensity of fires. Two of the most important weather parameters are wind speed and relative humidity. In general, the higher the wind speed and lower the relative humidity, the greater the potential and intensity of fires. Windy conditions will help in spreading the fire, while lower humidities will quickly dry out vegetation making wildfires easier to ignite and harder to contain.

Forecasting changes in wind direction is also very important to fighting wildfires. A change in wind direction will make the fire spread in a different direction, which could place life and property in harm's way. Precipitation amounts and duration are very important in determining the day's fire potential. Moisture in the form of rain or snow makes vegetation much less likely to ignite and burn, while making the control of wildfires easier.

Residents whose homes are in forested areas, or those who plan on visiting forests, should keep abreast of the latest forecast from your National Weather Service. Keep in touch with local land management agencies about possible burn restrictions and preparedness actions, especially during prolonged dry conditions. To obtain Firewise and burning restriction information, go to www.burnsafetn.org.

Children can also play a major role in preventing fires by remembering the following safety tips:

1. Never play with matches, lighters, flammable liquids, or any fire!!!

2. Tell your friends about fire prevention.

3. Tell an adult right away if you see smoke, find matches, or see someone playing with matches.

4. Stay calm during an emergency and listen to instructions from an adult. Remember, Smokey Bear needs your help to spread the word that "only you can prevent forest fires".

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