by Tad Agoglia
Large-scale natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding are often accompanied by powerful winds and heavy rain. This lethal combination causes trees to fall and structures to collapse. The First Response Team of America is made up of heavy equipment, trucks, and first responders that travel around the country, assisting communities in need during and immediately after these storms.
Storm Preparation Tips
When we respond after a severe weather event, the most common need is road clearing of downed trees and debris for ambulances, fire trucks, and other emergency vehicles to gain access to the area of devastation. While our STIHL chainsaws get us through this, based on our experience there are a couple of tips we can recommend to homeowners for things to do prior to the storm that can help minimize damage.
- Have your equipment and safety gear stored in a safe, accessible place and keep it clean and ready to go.
- Ensure that trees located around active power lines, roads, homes, and vehicles are healthy. Have them inspected regularly by a tree care professional. Many trees that fall during severe weather break at their weak point, where the tree has already begun to rot.
- Understand the type of soil where trees are planted. High winds are not the only culprit capable of uprooting trees. Flooding will often bring down trees rooted in sandy regions.
Storm Aftermath Safety
The aftermath of a storm is often an unpredictable time and can pose dangerous circumstances for both storm victims experiencing this level of destruction for the first time and highly trained professionals. At every response we find trees that are partially rotted, fallen onto a structure, lay at an obscure angle, cover live power lines, among many other unstable situations. Appearances can be deceiving, so it is imperative to practice extreme caution and approach every situation with discretion.
- Close off and do not enter any rooms in which a tree has fallen on top of a structure. The walls and ceiling of the structure may unexpectedly collapse under the weight of the tree, even days after the tree fell.
- If a tree has fallen over power lines, do not attempt to remove it or go near it. Call a professional.
- Work slowly and cautiously; working with a fallen tree may expose unexpected debris the tree had covered, such as metal fragments or power lines.
- If you are going to operate a chainsaw, always wear the safety gear recommended in your owner's manual, including chaps, helmets, ear and eye protection, and gloves, and ensure it is in good condition before starting.
Tad Agoglia is the founder and president of First Response Team America. To learn more about, and donate to, the FRTA visit the First Response Team America website.