SEATTLE - It's that time again. Summer. Picnics and parades, barbecues and baseball, long hikes on rugged trails or a cool dip in a mountain lake. Lots of ways and long days to have lots of fun.

But take care. Lots of it.

As temperatures rise and the land dries-out, it's also time again for wildfires. That has Vicki Christiansen worried. A native of Washington, she began her career as a wildland firefighter for the state's Department of Natural Resources. Today she heads the U.S. Forest Service. From the ground up and the top down she's aware of the damage wildfires can do. And this year, she recently told National Public Radio, that "a billion acres of land across America are at risk of catastrophic wildfires."

Hundreds of thousands of those at-risk acres likely will be in Washington state which saw 1,743 fires consume almost 440,000 acres in 2018. And this year could be worse.

Although the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise says the wildfire season is off to a "slower start" this year than year past, its June Fire Potential Outlook forecast higher-than-average fire activity in large sections of the state in June, July, August and September. In 2017, the Insurance Information Institute estimated that more than 154,000 homes in Washington were at "extreme risk" due to wildfires.

That's plenty to be worried about, but, even more so, it's plenty of reason to make sure you're prepared if, thanks to Mother Nature or, as much frequently is the case, human negligence or error puts you and yours at risk.

Below you'll find a set of links to organizations that can help you prepare for the season ahead and to monitor fire activity in real time. Just as the best time to fix a roof is when the sun is shining, the best time to prepare for wildfires is before the air gets smoky and the flames are just a ridge or two away:

Prepare & Prevent

Stay in Touch

Recovery & Rebuilding

A Reminder

And remember. An ounce of preparation is worth well more than a waterlogged pile of charred rubble left behind by a wildland fire. Be smart. Be safe. BE PREPARED.

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