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THURSDAY, AUG. 25, 2011

CONTACT: Brian R. Haines, public information officer
N.C. Forest Service
(919) 857-4828

Put safety first when cleaning up storm debris

RALEIGH — Hurricane Irene is forecast to impact the North Carolina coast Saturday, bringing heavy rain and high winds that could fell trees and damage property. The N.C. Forest Service is encouraging people to be safe when using chain saws to clean up debris after Irene.

Although your trees may look severely damaged, restorative pruning and care may increase the chance of them regaining their original health and beauty. If the basic structure of your trees is intact, it may be in your best interest to save them.

Contact a certified arborist to assess tree health and structural integrity. Most tree work should be done only by those trained and equipped to work safely in and around trees. Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained and equipped to provide proper care.

Tree topping is not a viable solution to storm damage recovery or prevention. The sprouts that occur after topping are fast-growing, weakly attached branches that are more likely to break off in a future storm.

People who choose to do their own cleanup after a storm should work with a partner, particularly when operating equipment such as chain saws. If you are not familiar with chain saws, it is recommended that you consult a professional for your tree work. If you must use a chain saw, adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Before any work begins, survey the site for any hazards such as downed electrical wires, leaning trees or broken limbs hanging in the canopy.
  • If electrical wires are present, do not attempt the tree work. Contact your utility company and let its crews remove the electrical wires.
  • Work only on the ground and always use personal protective equipment such as a hard hat, eye protection, chain saw chaps and appropriate footwear.
  • Keep both hands on the chain saw’s handles at all times.
  • Use caution when cutting with the tip of the chain saw to avoid kickback.
  • Cut at waist level or below.
  • Beware of trees and limbs under pressure.Trees on top of each other or trees that have twisted when falling can be under enormous pressure.Sudden release of this pressure by cutting the tree with a chain saw or other tool can cause injury or even death.
  • When you begin to get tired, stop sawing and let someone else take over or wait until the next day to continue.

If you choose to hire a local tree company, most will note their professional affiliation in their advertisement. To learn more about certified arborists in your area, visit The International Society of Arboriculture at, the American Society of Consulting Arborists at or the Tree Care Industry Association at

For more information, contact the N.C. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program at (919) 857-4842. Information about proper tree care and tree assessment following a storm is available online at


NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Brian Long, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3005; FAX: (919) 733-5047

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