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Fallen Tree? First Steps to TakeJune 20th, 2014 by
No matter how strong the roots, no tree stands forever. Storms, disease, improper planting and growth, and decay can topple even the mightiest oak. When this happens, it’s important to know what to do first. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios and how you should initially respond in each case.
On Your Home
Evacuate. This is the most serious and potentially hazardous scenario. First and foremost is the safety of any residents or pets. If any injuries have been sustained, call 911 immediately. Even if the damage to your home doesn’t appear too devastating, tree branches alone can weigh thousands of pounds and pose a great threat. You need to evacuate the premises.
Contact the police or fire department. Call your local police or fire department to report the fallen tree, as it can cause fires and electrical hazards. These professionals are trained to handle such situations, and they’ll be able to assess the risk involved in staying in the house. It may be a simple matter of taping up some tarp, but you want to err on the side of caution.
Call your insurance company. File a claim with your homeowner’s insurance carrier as soon as possible. Most policies will cover the damage to your home and belongings if it’s determined that the tree’s falling wasn’t due to negligence on your part. Take pictures of the damage to present to the insurance adjuster.
On Power Lines
Keep a safe distance. Downed power lines are incredibly dangerous, and you should always assume that they’re live. Don’t attempt to remove any portion of the tree or even drive underneath.
Contact the power company. Let the utility provider know about the tree. They’ll be handling it from here. Fallen trees account for many power outages, so you’ll want to have already taken the necessary precautions in case you find yourself in the dark.
On the Ground
Assess any damage. If a tree falls within your yard, it’s possible that there’s been some collateral damage to your property. Check to be sure that no vehicles, fencing, or other items have taken a beating. Depending on your insurance policy, some of this might be covered. Take pictures and document everything.
Use a Best Pick to remove the tree. No matter how skilled you may be with a chainsaw, tree removal should be left to the professionals—it’s a dangerous business, and you want it done right.
Regardless of where the tree fell, by taking action promptly, you can avoid further property damage and—most importantly—prevent a potentially dangerous situation from becoming truly harmful.
Sources: Georgia Power; HGTV; Southern Group of State Foresters.
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