Now that California is finally getting some much-needed rain, it's a good time to remind folks to keep a heads up for a potential hazard: falling tree branches. The combination of a months-long drought and a new series of winter rainstorms makes for potentially dangerous conditions around the trees that provide us our shade. After a prolonged dry spell, some trees may not be able to handle the stress of high winds and heavy rains, resulting in branches snapping off at a moment's notice.
Falling tree branches present a continual risk to both people and automobiles across America, though oftentimes tragedies can be avoided by regular, diligent inspection by professionals of potential problem trees. The USDA's forest service has several signs to watch for in order to spot a decaying tree that might be a danger to the community. These are:
- Dead branches on the tree or on the ground near the tree.
- Mushrooms growing near the base of the tree.
- Excessive leaf loss or dead leaves, especially at the crown (top) of the tree.
- There are cavities or rotten wood in the tree.
- There are other dead trees or fallen branches nearby.
- There's a noticeable change in the direction the tree is leaning.
- Construction, erosion or storms have damaged the ground surrounding the tree.
All too regularly, we can scan the news headlines and see victims injured or even killed by falling tree branches, and oftentimes these tragedies are caused by negligence, a failure to meet community standards of safety. If you suspect a tree by public property may present a risk to those in the area, contact your local city or county agency responsible for care of trees near a right-of-way unincorporated road.
For the City of Sacramento, contact Urban Forestry or call 311.
For the County of Sacramento, contact Trees and Landscape Maintenance.