Nothing can be more surprising or inconvenient than a tree emergency when you least expect it. Here are 5 tips for dealing with unwelcome surprises.
Imagine the scenario: you’ve been thinking about having your trees assessed by a professional arborist, just as a precaution, but life is busy and you keep forgetting to call. The big one by the driveway looks like it has a dead branch; it’s been that way for a while and nothing has happened, but it wouldn’t hurt to make sure. Then, the unthinkable happens: a surprise storm hits and that huge branch comes down, hitting everything in its path as it falls. Nightmare. What to do now? Here’s a quick check list to keep you focused…
1 – Make sure everyone’s safe
We know we don’t have to tell you this, but first, make sure everyone is accounted for and safe. This includes checking for any passers-by, or visitors to your property, who may have been in the way of the falling tree or branch. In the case of an injury, call 911 immediately and make the victim as comfortable as you can while you wait for help.
2 – Check for downed power lines
Fallen power lines can pose an enormous hazard, resulting in severe injury or death. Whether there have been casualties or not, you’ll want to avoid any additional injury. If power lines are down, call 911 immediately, and keep people and pets away from the affected area. Hydro crews will disconnect the power and repair the damage. They’ll also remove tree debris that’s in the power line area, but the remainder of the clean-up is the onus of the homeowner.
3 – Check for damage
Now that you’ve ensured everyone’s safety, you’ll want to know the extent of the damage to your property. Sometimes a tree falls in a perfect place and causes no actual property damage – in this case, all you’ll have to do is arrange for an arborist to come in and cut the tree into manageable-sized pieces, if you want to keep the firewood, or remove it entirely if you don’t.
In the event that the tree has struck your home, out-buildings or vehicles, or caused some other damage, your insurance policy is the next thing you’ll want to reference, to understand the scope of your coverage.
4 – Call your insurance company
The first thing the insurance company will want to know is whether or not there are any casualties. Once you’ve assured them that you’ve taken the steps above, you can discuss your situation. They’ll likely send an adjustor to your home to assess the damage and related repair costs.
It’s important to know that not all tree emergencies are covered by your insurance policy. In situations where a tree or branch happened to be dead or compromised, the homeowner is liable for all damage costsi.
Knowing the facts will help you to navigate your situation as best you can.
5 – Call an arborist
At times like this, an arborist will seem like your “new best friend”. Not only will they help you with your unfortunate situation, they’ll also assess your other trees while they’re on your property, just to ensure that you don’t get hit with a second problem.
A certified arborist will perform a professional tree risk assessment, which will identify tree health issues and advise you of any threats, including problems that aren’t visible to the naked eye, so that you can take the necessary steps to reduce risk to your property and loved ones.
A preventive risk assessment could be of particular importance for homeowners whose property has Ash trees, given the pervasive damage being inflicted by the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle in Southern Ontario.