Be Careful Cleaning Up Storm Damage

Fallen branches, chainsaws, ladders could be recipes for disaster

It’s only natural after a storm to want to take matters into your own hands and clean up fallen tree branches and other storm aftermath. But you could make matters worse for yourself – much worse – if you don’t proceed with great caution and call in a professional.

“The dangerous, most damaging situation we most commonly see after a storm is a homeowner up on a ladder with a chainsaw,” says David Marren, Vice President of Safety at Bartlett Tree Experts.

Beware ladders and chainsaws
“That’s when we see the most injuries and fatalities,” he said. “There’s a broken limb hanging over the house and the homeowner thinks he can get at it with a ladder. Anytime you’re above the ground on a ladder – including just four or five feet up – there’s an increased risk of injury and fatality. Even professionally trained arborists don’t like to use ladders. Add a chainsaw to the mix, and there’s often trouble.”

Homeowners using chainsaws in general is a problem, says Marren. “It’s not a tool you can just pick up and start using. People should be trained in how to handle chainsaws safely. Professionals get a lot of chainsaw training, from knowing about proper protective gear – like chaps, goggles and helmet – to chainsaw uses and how to handle the equipment.”

Electrical hazards
Then there are the electrical hazards. People don’t realize that trees naturally conduct electricity, even more so when they’re wet from snow, says Marren. So if a storm knocks an electrical line down and a branch happens to be touching it, if you touch another part of the tree, you can still be electrocuted.

Uprooted trees and downed limbs
Another action that can result in tragic consequences is trying to right a fallen tree. Sometimes a tree topples and its large root plate is in the air. People working to right it are injured or killed when the root plate falls on them. In other cases, a tree may be bent over with debris on it, the homeowner removes the debris, and the tree snaps up, hitting people.

There is a lot of pressure involved when a tree is damaged in a storm, says Marren. Professionals know how to work in those situations safely, for both the people and property nearby.

Additional falling debris
Even being outside assessing storm damage can be dangerous when broken limbs and weakened trees are involved. A homeowner may be in the yard after the storm, he tugs on a branch that he doesn’t realize is holding up the rest of the tree, and it falls on him. “The fact is, debris can fall on you while you’re out there simply looking around,” says Marren.

Professionals might make clearing up storm damage look easy, but it’s not. For safety’s sake, leave the cleanup to them.

About Bartlett Tree Experts
The F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Company was founded in 1907 by Francis A. Bartlett and is the world’s leading scientific tree and shrub care company.  The organization’s current chairman, Robert A. Bartlett Jr., represents the third generation of Bartlett family management.  Bartlett has locations in 25 U.S. states, Canada, Ireland and Great Britain. Services include pruning, pest and disease management, fertilization and soil management, cabling and bracing, tree lightning protection systems and tree/stump removal. Its corporate offices are located in Stamford, Connecticut.  To find out more, visit the company’s web site at or call 1-877-BARTLETT (227-8538).

For more information, contact:

Tina McNulty

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