Ice Storm Safety

by Rachel Laurendeau on April 11, 2013

Devastating ice storms and blizzard conditions across the Midwest in April? Yes, that’s the kind of spring it’s been, folks, and it has me thinking about emergency preparedness and storm safety. And while it may be too late to prevent storm damage from this particular storm, now is a good time to think about what you can do to stay safe and protect your property from future storms.

In case of emergency, please listen to your local radio or TV station to find out more about current conditions and forecasts. You can also check with your local Red Cross office, government emergency measures office or department of public safety for their recommendations.

If you live in an area prone to snow, ice or wind storms, keeping a list of emergency contacts handy can save a lot of stress. The list can include contacts for the electric and gas companies, tree service, AAA, and snow plowing service. If you can, stay off the roads and sidewalks until they have been cleared of ice, snow and debris. Be patient, it can take time for emergency services and snow removal contractors to get all of the work done after a major weather event.

Tree Damage

  • The bulk of the damage from ice and wind storms is caused by falling branches and tree trunks which damage homes and property. The potential to cause the most damage comes from limbs that hang over or lean towards your home, garage, driveway or power lines.
  • Trees that are most likely to crack and fall? Those that are dead, diseased, rotting or infested by insects. These should be removed as soon as they are noticed.
  • Quick growing species of trees often have brittle wood and are particularly susceptible to cracking.
  • Other species that are susceptible to damage from ice storms due to their structure are Bradford Pear, green ash, littleleaf linden, redbud, Siberian elm, American elm, hackberry, honeylocust, river birch and Siberian elm.

What can you do?

  • Landscaping and planting trees is a home improvement that many people enjoy. When planting new trees, consider using species that will be resistant to heavy loads and high winds. According to a University of Illinois publication, “trees that show good resistance to ice damage…include American sweetgum, baldcypress, eastern hemlock, ironwood, Norway maple, white oak and swamp white oak.”
  • Be sure to plant large trees well away from your home and do not plant them under power lines or in other areas where they can affect utilities.
  • Prune your trees regularly; making sure that all dead, damaged or weak branches are removed. If you are unable to do this yourself, call an arborist or tree service to take care of it for you.

Being prepared and taking precautions is the best way to stay safe during unpredictable weather events. Always have an emergency kit on hand and follow the above tips to help protect your home and your family.

Resources: University of Illinois Extension

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