NEW YORK — Many phones in New York City rang (or vibrated or did nothing) simultaneously just before 7 a.m. Friday when the National Weather Service issued a citywide red flag advisory.

Judging by the skyrocketing Google search volume immediately after, many are wondering what that means.

It has to do with the risk of forest fires. The National Weather Service defines the watch, which it issued for the five boroughs as well as Middle Island on Long Island, through 8 p.m. Friday, as conditions in which “warm temperatures, very low humidity and winds are expected to combine stronger to produce a greater fire hazard.

Think of wildfires like the two that wreaked abject havoc on NJ Transit commuters late last month. Check the latest weather alerts for your neighborhood here.

The National Weather Service suggests the following when the watch is active:

  • If allowed to burn, all burning barrels must be covered with a weighted metal lid with holes no larger than 3/4 inch.
  • Do not throw cigarettes or matches from a moving vehicle. They can set the dry grass on the side of the road on fire and turn into a forest fire.
  • Properly extinguish all exterior lights. Smother the fires with plenty of water and stir to make sure everything is cool to the touch. Soak the charcoal in water until it cools.
  • Do not throw live charcoal on the ground and then leave it there.
  • Never leave a fire unattended. Sparks or embers can fly across leaves or grass, ignite a fire and spread quickly.

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