Whether it is a hurricane, tornado, or severe wind event, storms can cause sever damage and with it a host of dangers when cleaning up after the event. It is vital that you take the proper precautions to stay safe during storm cleanup. Statistics show that often more people are injured after the storm conducting cleanup than in the actual storm itself. “People think that after the storm has passed the danger is over, but an alarming number of people are injured each year during cleanup.”-Mark Chisholm, certified arborist with Aspen Tree Expert Company in Jackson, NJ.
In order to help you reduce the risk of injury during cleanup and repair we have listed a few quick tips to keep in mind:
Carefully assess any damage.
1. Do not try to do it all yourself. Consult a professional if any of the below situations apply:
- If it appears that there are downed power lines anywhere in the area.
- Large limbs are broken or hanging or overhead chain saw work is needed.
- If a tree is uprooted or downed, it can create an unnatural pattern of pressure points and tension. A chain saw operator may be in severe danger if attempting to cut a tensioned limb or trunk (called a “springpole”) – it may have an extremely violent, catapult-like reaction.
- If branches are too close or touching utility lines, report immediately to your local utility company. NEVER attempt to move downed utility lines.
- Any task you have not been properly trained to handle or are uncomfortable undertaking.
- Always be aware what is on the other side of the area you are cutting.
- Other than storm damage, is the tree basically healthy?
- Are major limbs and/or the leader branch still remaining?
- Is at least 50 percent of the tree’s crown still intact?
- Are there remaining branches that can form a new branch structure?
If you answer “yes” to the majority of these questions, there is a good chance the tree can be saved. When in doubt, consult a professional.
4. Take steps to repair minor damage and clear debris.
- Remove any broken branches or stubs still attached to the tree.
- Remove jagged remains of limbs to reduce the risk of decay agents entering the wound.
- Smaller branches should be pruned at the point where they join larger ones.
- Resist the urge to over-prune. Don’t worry if the tree’s appearance is not perfect.
If you have any questions visit the homeowner section of Mark Chisholm's website, or the public resources page of the International Society of Arboriculture.