It’s storm season, and at this time of year storms are occurring frequently. And with storms comes heavy rain, hail, flash flooding, lightning and strong winds – all of which can be problematic for trees. Throughout the storm, trees have to withstand all these weather extremes, and sometimes they reach a point where they simply can’t. When this happens, you might get broken or fallen branches, shattered wood, exposed roots and even a tree that completely breaks or falls.
When this happens, it’s time to take action. Damaged, broken or fallen trees can be extremely dangerous. If you own the land where the tree stands, you may be liable if someone is injured by the damaged tree. If you suspect the damaged tree may be dangerous, it’s your responsibility to do something about it. Here are five things that you need to know.
Don’t take the DIY route
As mentioned above, fallen and damaged trees can be dangerous. Don’t attempt to clear or remove the tree yourself – especially if the tree is near fallen power lines. The DIY route is not recommended, and can be risky if the tree has fallen onto a building, as it may have caused structural damage. It can be dangerous to attempt tree removal on your own.
It’s always best to leave the assessment, reestablishment or removal of a storm-damaged tree to the professionals, who have the experience and equipment to properly assess the damage and take care of it. Contact us here at Heritage Tree Care for all your emergency tree removal requirements.
What you CAN do is make a visual assessment of the tree – but do so from a distance. Be sensible and avoid any areas that look unsafe. Note where the tree has fallen and any damage that has occurred – and take photos to document everything. Make the area as safe as possible without putting yourself at risk by doing so. Remove loose debris that could cause a hazard, cover smashed windows and consider putting markers around the area to warn others and keep people away.
Contact your insurance provider
After you’ve made a visual assessment of the damage and ensured the area is as safe as possible, get in contact with your insurance provider. Different insurance policies cover different things, so you’ll need to carefully read your Product Disclosure document. There are certain circumstances where you may be liable for damage caused to neighbours or property, and other circumstances where you won’t be liable. In some situations, your insurance provider will pay for damage or removal, and in others you will need to pay for these things yourself. While there are some circumstances that generally remain the same (for instance, if the tree was healthy and in good condition before it fell in the storm, you are usually not liable for any damage), the only way to know for sure is to contact your insurance provider.
Tree removal may not always be necessary
Oftentimes, damaged trees can be saved, but it will depend on the extent of the damage. Even trees that have been completely uprooted can sometimes be replanted and saved. Branches can be trimmed or pruned (ideally without affecting the structural integrity of the tree), hanging limbs can be removed, torn bark can be repaired and smoothed, the tree can be staked for stability and the root system can be re-established. Chances are the tree will take some time to recover completely, however, but an experienced arborist knows just what to do to ensure the tree will regrow and become stable again.
However, storm-damaged trees often can’t be saved if the damage is extensive. Tree removal may be necessary if:
- The trunk is snapped
- The tree has fallen over
- A majority of branches have broken off
- The tree has fallen on powerlines
- The roots are exposed
You’ll need to act quickly
If your tree is able to be saved, you’ll need to act quickly. Uprooted trees can sometimes be replanted, but it will have to be done quickly for your tree to have any chance of survival. Likewise, damaged tree branches will need to be removed or pruned to prevent further damage, minimise stress on the tree and encourage healthy regrowth. The sooner this is done, the better the tree will be able to recover.
If you have a damaged or fallen tree, the best thing you can do is contact a professional arborist to assess the damage and take immediate steps to either repair the damage or remove the tree. A fast response will give the tree the best chance of survival, or in cases when it can’t be saved, prevent further damage, accidents or injuries from occurring.
Give yourself the best chance of preventing storm-damaged trees
While some tree falls or damage can’t be prevented due to wild storms (considered an “Act of God”), some can. Trees that are healthy and in good condition are less likely to fall or be damaged, meaning you are unlikely to be liable if the tree does fall. However, if you have trees that are dead, damaged, unstable or prone to dropping branches, you may very well be liable if the tree falls and causes damage or injury.
Give yourself the best chance of preventing unfortunate circumstances by ensuring your trees are healthy and in good condition, and removing dead or dangerous trees. And the best way to do that? Get any trees on your property regularly inspected and assessed by a qualified arborist such as those you’ll find at Heritage Tree Care, who can ensure your trees remain in good health over their lifetime, and remove those that aren’t viable. An arborist will ensure your trees are prepared for storm season, by identifying any weak spots and removing dangers, such as dead branches, rotten wood and diseases that cause the tree to weaken.
Storms are a part of life, particularly during the summer months, and trees will always be at risk of damage during extreme weather events. Fallen trees can be a danger to people, property and powerlines, and need fast action to deal with the problem. That’s where our fast-response and experienced team come in. If you need help with a storm-damaged tree, contact the professionals at Heritage Tree Care – we’re ready to deal with any storm-damage situation.