RE/MAX 440
John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

On Thin Ice: Are Trees on Your Property Susceptible to Breakage?

November 16, 2015 12:57 am

If temperatures routinely dip below freezing in your area, you’ve likely witnessed the impact ice can have on your property. Ice-covered trees, in particular, are susceptible to breakage from the added weight. But how can you know which of your trees are more likely to give in?

“There are a number of growth features that increase a tree species’ susceptibility to breakage in ice storms,” says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). “Among them are included bark, decaying or dead branches, increased surface area of lateral (side) branches, broad crowns or imbalanced crowns, and fine branch size.”

Included bark results from in-grown bark in branch junctions. This is a weak connection and increases the likelihood of branch breakage under ice-loading conditions.

Decaying or dead branches are already weakened and have a high probability of breaking when loaded with ice. The surface area of lateral branches increases as the number of branches and the broadness of the crown increase. With an increased surface area, more ice can accumulate on lateral branches; the greater ice load results in greater branch failure.

Many broad-leafed tree species, when grown in the open, form broad crowns (decurrent branching), increasing their susceptibility to ice storms. Examples include Siberian elm, American elm, hackberry, green ash, and honey locust. Trees with imbalanced crowns are also more susceptible to ice damage. In general, susceptibility can vary greatly depending on the time of year, geographic location and overall health of the tree.

When planting a new tree in your yard, you should have a clear understanding of the size that tree is expected to grow. Is it too close to the house? The overhead wires? The sidewalk? Proper tree placement, away from structures, will reduce property damage.

Trees should not be planted in locations where growth will interfere with above-ground utilities—branches that grow into power lines and fail during ice storms create power outages and safety hazards. Trees pruned regularly from a young age should be more resistant to ice storms as a result of removal of structurally weak branches, decreased surface area of lateral branches and decreased wind resistance. Professional arborists can install cables and braces to increase a tree’s tolerance to ice accumulation in situations where individual trees must be stabilized to prevent their failure.

After storm damage has occurred, hazardous trees and branches require immediate removal to ensure safety and prevent additional property damage. Trees that can be saved should have broken branches properly pruned to the branch collar. Loose bark should be cut back only to where it is solidly attached to the tree. A split fork can be repaired through cabling and bracing.

Tree species resistant to ice damage can be planted to reduce tree and property damage from ice storms. Common trees and their levels of susceptibility* include:

• American sweetgum
• Arborvitae
• Black walnut
• Blue beech
• Catalpa
• Eastern hemlock
• Ginkgo
• Ironwood
• Kentucky coffee tree
• Littleleaf linden
• Norway maple
• Silver linden
• Swamp white oak
• White oak

• Bur oak
• Eastern white pine
• Northern red oak
• Red maple
• Sugar maple
• Sycamore
• Tuliptree
• White ash

• American elm
• American linden
• Black cherry
• Black locust
• Bradford pear
• Common hackberry
• Green ash
• Honey locust
• Pin oak
• Siberian elm
• Silver maple

*Sources: University of New Hampshire; University of Illinois; United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service; New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development

Source: TCIA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Holiday Handbook: Tips for Safe Decorating

November 16, 2015 12:57 am

Adorning your home with twinkling lights this holiday season? Keep safety in mind, urges the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), inside and outside your home.

“Winter is the peak season for home fires, but these fires can be prevented by adopting a proactive approach to safety,” says Lorraine Carli, vice president of Communications for the NFPA. “Understanding the hazards that are commonly associated with the holiday season and following basic safety guidelines can help ensure that the holiday season is happy and disaster-free.”

“Electrical problems are factors in one-third of home Christmas tree fires,” adds ESFI President Brett Brenner. “Be sure not to overburden your electrical system, and be vigilant for warning signs, such as blown fuses or flickering lights, that could signify a serious electrical problem.”

To keep your household safe from fire this season, the NFPA and the ESFI recommend the following tips:

• Avoid using candles when possible.  Consider using battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles.

• Never leave an open flame unattended. Keep burning candles within sight.

• Choose holiday decorations made with flame-resistant or non-combustible materials.

• Use only electrical decorations and lights that have been approved for safe use by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

• Carefully inspect each electrical decoration before use. Cracked or frayed sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire.

• Follow the use and care instructions that accompany electrical decorations, and always unplug electrical decorations before replacing bulbs or fuses.

• Keep young children away from holiday lights, electrical decorations, and extension cords to prevent electrical shock and burn injuries.

• Avoid plugging too many holiday lights and decorations into a single outlet. Overloaded outlets can overheat and cause a fire.

• Do not mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cord’s insulation. 

• Never connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together.

• Make sure any electrical decorations used outdoors are marked for outdoor use.

• Keep all outdoor extension cords and light strings clear of snow and standing water.

• Use caution when decorating near power lines. Contact with a high-voltage line could lead to electrocution.

• Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to bed.

Additionally, those purchasing Christmas trees should choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. (A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree.) Add water to the tree stand daily. If purchasing an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant. Ensure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights, and make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.

Source: ESFI

Published with permission from RISMedia.