Emergency Management

Proper tree care can minimize hazards during upcoming storms
Posted By Hunter George on Nov 17th, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Proper tree care can minimize hazards during storms The practice of tree-topping can weaken trees

OLYMPIA – With a storm front predicted to hit Western Washington this weekend, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and its Urban & Community Forestry Program remind people that proper tree care can reduce hazards during storms. Trees that are neglected or improperly pruned can fall or shed limbs during storms, causing power outages, property damage, and injuries or deaths.

‘Tree topping’ is not the answer to healthy trees

Topping, the practice of removing large branches and tops of trees, actually creates future hazards rather than eliminating them. A topped tree is much more likely to break or uproot in a storm than a tree with a normal branch structure.

Proper care is to prune the dead or weakened limbs on trees and thin excess branches from the crown. Trees that are pruned regularly should be more resistant to storm damage. Proper pruning, including removal of structurally weak branches, decreases the surface area of lateral branches, which reduces wind resistance.

DNR urban foresters also urge caution when dealing with the aftermath of a storm. Saturated soils can lead to damage to the tree roots. Storm-damaged trees may have broken limbs that can fall later or come into contact with power lines. Having trees inspected by a certified arborist can ease fears and eliminate unnecessary damage in storms. To find a local certified arborist, log on to http://www.treesaregood.com .

Tips for dealing with tree service companies

DNR offers these additional tips to consumers seeking a tree service company to deal with downed or damaged trees from the aftermath of storms:

  • Hire a company that is licensed, bonded, insured and employs ISA Certified Arborists. Although Washington requires tree service companies to register with the state, they are not required to adhere to proper pruning standards or even demonstrate pruning knowledge in order to obtain a license.
  • Beware of  door-knockers; their low prices could prove costly. Most reputable companies have business cards, truck signs, and even uniforms that represent a professional level of service.
  • Ask for references, and take time to select a reputable company. Avoid hiring anyone who will top a tree.Media Contact: Janet Pearce, Community Outreach and Environmental Education, 360-902-1122, janet.pearce@dnr.wa.gov
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