What could go wrong? Disaster Series

What could go wrong? Disaster Series

First off, don’t panic.

Sometimes, the weather person gets it wrong.

However, since the science and technology behind weather forecasting has become more precise, there’s a very good chance what you are reading about in the weather report will actually happen.

For a prediction of a severe summer storm over Niagara, notice will arrive to the public via traditional news and social media, and possibly also via Alert Ready, Canada’s new public alert system, to all mobile devices connected to an LTE network.

Since we all know someone who is obsessed with the weather (have to confess, at Miller Restoration, that’s almost everyone!), when severe weather is expected, you’re likely to hear about it from more than one source.

To double-check the information, visit Environment Canada and click your approximate location on the map. You can refine the location by typing in your city’s name in the “access city” box at the top right of the page.

Now that you know what’s expected to occur, you can make preparations to protect your home and family.

Tips on how to survive severe summer weather are produced by Environment Canada and are available HERE, in an archived document on their website. Most of what you’ll read about includes common-sense tips, like “play it safe by remaining indoors,” “secure loose objects,” “stay in your vehicle,” and other tips worth repeating, especially to children.

Did you know, for example, that if you are caught outdoors during a sudden thunder storm, you can protect yourself from lightning strikes by finding a low-lying area or ditch and going into a crouch with feet wide apart, covering your head with your arms? Crouching makes you smaller than objects around you (like buildings, trees, hydro poles, etc.), and your arms can protect your head from flying debris if there is also a high wind.

If extremely high winds are expected, it’s possible damage to trees, to homes and outdoor property will occur. As a member of Disaster Kleenup International, our Miller Restoration teams have seen what can happen: We often get called in by insurance companies for cleanup following severe weather with excessive winds.

We have witnessed damage to rooftops; to garage roofs and doors; to sheds and other outbuildings; to large trees uprooted into homes and vehicles; damage caused by trees splintering or losing branches; hedges uprooted; fences caving in; patio furniture, swing sets and barbecues missing or damaged from being flung about; pool covers and tarps or flags shredded; above-ground pools collapsed; in-ground pools damaged by debris blown into them and other, related situations.

In a recent wind storm, high winds uprooted a tree into the side of a home, caving in a window in an upper storey. Structural damage resulted in the home being uninhabitable while being repaired, which really impacted the family. Thankfully, nobody was home during the storm, and all pets were safe, too.

What do you do, though, if your property features beautiful, mature trees, and excessive winds are predicted for your area?

There isn’t much you can do, really. However, regular maintenance to your trees can often highlight weaknesses before they become a problem. A trained arborist and tree service company can often tell which trees, given their location and type of root system, may become a problem during excessive winds.

Because our weather patterns in Niagara include severe winds, having your trees inspected annually is the smart thing to do. Things to watch for include: Branches that no longer produce leaves; branches with cracks or which are broken; branches that brush against a building; exposed roots; narrow, ‘v-shaped’ branch joins; branches that cross over one another, and other signs of weakness, like peeling bark, insect infestation and hollow areas.

Pruning for functionality – or to encourage natural strength in the tree – can be done annually also, eliminating branches that weaken the tree’s natural ability to withstand wind.

Trimming a tree from the top down, called “topping,” may seem to give the tree strength by reducing its crown, but it actually does the opposite. New growth will sprout from the exposed dominant branches, weakening the main support of the tree and leaving it exposed to damage from elements and to disease.

Our teams at Miller Restoration advise calling in the tree experts, when there is concern over a tree’s proximity to a home. Discuss all your options, from regular maintenance to a tree’s removal by professionals, before acting. Let the experts advise you on a tree’s overall health and ability to withstand winds before deciding to eliminate it as a threat.

Keeping on top of the situation with your trees is really all you can do – that and watching the weather report, so you know what’s coming. Alternatively, you could keep your fingers crossed, and hope that Mother Nature remains kind when it comes to severe summer weather in Niagara.

If the unthinkable should happen to you, our teams of experts are standing by, ready to assess the damage. Call the Miller Restoration office at 905-688-9224, or message us HERE.