If a tree falls...
December 26, 2010 8:12 AM   Subscribe

If a tree falls on my house during tonight's snowpocalypse, or other such event, what do I do?

A blizzard is on the way! The windy and heavy, wet snow means trees are likely to come down. I have several large, old trees on my property that could potentially fall on my house. We've already lost 2.25 trees in as many years (thankfully with no property damage), so I'm a bit nervous about more coming down, and this time causing damage.

So the question is... what exactly do you do if a tree falls on your house? Like what do you do right away?

My online searches all seem to have the same answer: call your insurance company. But what immediate good does that do when it's 3am and snowing in your living room? I'd like to know if it's likely a tree would actually come through not just the roof but the ceiling, what supplies I should have on hand to make temporary fixes to protect ourselves and our stuff, that sort of thing.
posted by dayintoday to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I should add that I know the call to the insurance company is important, and that you don't want to have real repairs done until they have come to assess.
posted by dayintoday at 8:14 AM on December 26, 2010

All I can think of is having several large tarps on hand.
posted by phrontist at 8:28 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd like to know if it's likely a tree would actually come through not just the roof but the ceiling

There's no generic answer to this question. If the tree is big enough and falls the right (wrong) way, and if your house is built in such a way that it's vulnerable to trees of that size falling in that way, then sure -- some part of a tree it could come through the ceiling. For your average tree falling on your average house, I'd say it's unlikely. Chances are you'd get a hole in your roof, followed by water damage.

Other than moving your family and your stuff away from a damaged area of the house, there's probably not much you can do at 3AM in a blizzard. Batten the hatches and wait for daylight.
posted by jon1270 at 8:35 AM on December 26, 2010

Prior to the storm, move your car out from under any trees that concern you. 1. Make sure everyone is OK. 2. Check for damage to the electrical system, turn off power if there are lines broken/damaged in the house. Check for damage to any appliance using natural gas, turn off gas if necessary. Check for water pipe damage, turn off water to house if there is.

Once you've secured those things, move valuables away from areas where there might be an ingress of water/snow. Tarp where possible. Start looking for resources, 'cuz you're not going to be the only one who needs a contractor and/or tree company.
posted by HuronBob at 8:48 AM on December 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

Might you lose power from such an accident? If so, I'd be sure to have some spare water on hand (electric pumps won't work) and firewood, assuming you have a fireplace/wood stove. Candles, flashlights, etc. Spare batteries...
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:39 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Look immediately at what trees you think might fall on your house. Sleep in the room/s furthest from the largest, tallest, most dangerous ones - mature large trees falling into houses kill people every winter. Call a tree guy ASAP and see if you have dangerous trees that need to be taken down.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:06 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Keep a go bag in your car, with a couple of days' worth of clothes, sturdy shoes or boots, whatever batteries/cords you need for charging electronic devices, bottled water, and snacks. Locate your insurance policy, and put your agent's number on speed-dial - also write it down on a piece of paper and put that in your wallet, so you'll have it if you lose your phone or your phone dies. Likewise, gather numbers for tree services, emergency plumbers, etc., since googling that info during a blackout may not be feasible. And go get some tarps and ropes. If you don't need them, great; if you do, you'll be glad to have them. Good luck!
posted by rtha at 10:31 AM on December 26, 2010

In terms of assessing damage something that would be really handy is a million candlepower plus Spotlight like this or this. The vast difference in price is related to run time, but you can get ones that run off your car or can be recharged in your car or a generator. This is what I would want if I was trying to find electrical damage in the dark.
posted by fshgrl at 12:02 PM on December 26, 2010

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