Tree Care Industry Association Recommendations for Hurricane Season: Look Up Before the Storm

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According to recent reports, Hurricane Irma’s path has been subject to speculation, but forecasts show the storm’s predicted path to track up the center of Florida this weekend, potentially affecting residents on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Irma is just one storm at the start of a long season that will surely see many more storms, so what steps should prudent consumers take with the trees in their landscape?

Preparing trees for a high-wind event should be done well in advance of the storm season. However, it’s not too late to start preparing, now.

Hurricanes and violent storms:
“It is important that people who live in the Atlantic and Gulf coastal areas be prepared,” says Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP* and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association. “Even people in the Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic states should heed the warning. Right now, get your trees as ready as they can be to survive a major storm. Don’t wait until the storm is headed your way.”

One of the greatest dangers to life and property during hurricanes is posed by falling trees and limbs. “Larger trees in leaf will ‘catch’ more wind and be subjected to increased mechanical stresses. These stresses increase the chances of either branch or whole-tree failure,” explains Andersen. “Preparing trees for a high-wind event should be done well in advance of the storm season. However, it’s not too late to start preparing, now. To help ease these dangers, have a qualified tree care provider evaluate your trees. Doing this will help determine potential weaknesses and dangers.”

Look at your trees for the following warning signs:

  • Wires in contact with tree branches. Trees may become energized when they are contacted by electric wires.
  • Dead or partially attached limbs hung up in the higher branches that could fall and cause damage or injury.
  • Cracked stems and branch unions that could cause catastrophic failure of a tree section.
  • Hollow or decayed areas on the trunk or main limbs, or mushrooms growing from the bark that may indicate a decayed and weakened stem.
  • Peeling bark or gaping wounds in the trunk could also indicate structural weakness.
  • Fallen or uprooted trees putting pressure on other trees beneath them.
  • Tight, V-shaped branch unions, which are much more prone to failure than open, U-shaped unions.
  • Heaving soil at the tree base is a potential indicator of an unsound root system.

A tree is a living, growing, changing thing, and its integrity and stability could change over time. Don’t assume that a tree that has survived nine severe storms will necessarily survive a tenth. Simultaneously, not all large trees are dangerous. Contact your tree care expert for an onsite examination.

Find a professional:
Contact TCIA, a public and professional resource on trees and arboriculture since 1938. TCIA has more than 2,300 member tree care firms and affiliated companies. All tree care company members recognize stringent safety and performance standards and are required to carry liability and workers’ compensation insurance, where applicable. TCIA also has the nation’s only Accreditation program that helps consumers find tree care companies that have been inspected and accredited based on: adherence to industry standards for quality and safety; maintenance of trained, professional staff; and dedication to ethics and quality in business practices. For more information, visit http://www.tcia.org.

An easy way to find a tree care service provider in your area is to use the “Locate Your Local TCIA Member Companies” program. You can use this service by calling 800-733-2622 or by doing a ZIP Code search on http://www.treecaretips.org.

  • Board Certified Master Arborist, Certified Treecare Safety Professional

Editors: If you would like additional information or digital photos, please contact TCIA via 800-733-2622.

TCIA arborists, safety and business professionals are also available as sources for tree related articles and issues: 800-733-2622.

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