Fallen trees bring a threat of personal injury, major expense, and leaving the home vulnerable for potentially long periods of time. Learn what you can do to help yourself, who to contact, and what you should avoid doing if this happens to you.
Carefully but quickly get out of the house
If you’re inside the home when a tree falls onto the house, your first priority is to safely evacuate everyone inside. Verbally assess if everyone is OK and avoid making unnecessary movements. The tree is likely unstable and may shift if multiple people walk around key structural zones.
If there are small children present, attend to them first and get them outside. Once everyone is outside, check for any signs of injury. Cuts, scrapes, and broken bones will be easy to spot, but be aware of concussions. Gather what information you can in order to aid medical professionals once they arrive.
Plan ahead for the worst
Not all homes will be vulnerable to the threat of fallen trees, but if you live in an area where you know it’s a real possibility, develop a fallen tree safety plan ahead of time.
This way, everyone will know the proper procedure to safely handle the event. Some basics of this type of plan would include:
- Agreeing on a meeting place outside the house. It should be fairly close so family members can easily spot one another and not need to return to the home to perform a search.
- Make everyone aware of the exits within the house, including windows if doors are blocked or inaccessible.
- Have a “to-go” bag at the ready that includes food, water, blankets, spare clothing, and anything else useful in case you can’t get back inside for an extended time.
- Know where you can stay in the event of an emergency; whether that’s a good neighbor, family friend, or hotel. Keep a reliable contractor’s number in the bag and contact them for emergency service.
Stay as calm as possible
A tree crashing into and even through your home is bound to cause high emotions. Try not to panic. Panicking will likely cause you to make rash decisions and jeopardize yourself and your family.
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Call emergency response professionals
Regardless if you or a family member is injured, or if the tree is big or small, call 911 as soon as you can. They’ll let you know the best course of action in order to move forward. By letting 911 know about the situation, other helpful organizations will be alerted of the incident.
- A fire crew should come by to inspect the damage and make sure it won’t cause a public safety issue or lead to a house fire.
- Ambulances and medical professionals should take a look at everyone on the scene. While there may not be any noticeable injuries, it’s possible a head injury has slipped under the radar.
- Public utility companies need to come out to the house to check for dangerous electrical wires or busted gas lines. They need to ensure hidden lines are not compromised and will not cause future problems.
Contact an experienced roofing contractor
Once you’ve taken proper steps towards your family’s wellbeing and the proper authorities have been contacted, it’s time to repair or replace the roof.
As mentioned above, it’s best to have done the research and have a reliable roofer on hand before any problems occur.
Keep the following baselines in mind when picking an emergency response roofing contractor:
- Choose a local contractor if possible. The likelihood of them being storm chasers is reduced, and they’ll have references within the community you can call on to check their reputation
- Hire a roofer with experience. They’ll likely have dealt with similar problems in the past and know how to handle it quickly and properly.
- Pick a roofer with proof of licensing and insurance. The last thing you want to deal with after serious home damage is liability costs for an injured contractor.
Hometown Roofing Contractors makes it easy for customers to find experienced roofers well suited for repairs. Homeowners can get multiple quotes to find the best rate and see how other people review their services.
What can be done immediately to help protect my home?
While the end result of a new roof or reliable repair is lasting, leak-free materials, some action will be needed to stop water from coming into the home. Be sure to ask what they (or you) can do immediately to remedy the situation, like:
- draping a large tarp over the exposed area.
- fixing structural damage to prevent any further collapse.
- cleaning up standing water in the home.
Know where you and your family can stay
Depending on the extent of the damage, you may be able to stay in your home after the utility crews have determined it’s safe to stay inside. Others won’t be so lucky and will have to make arrangements to live somewhere else until the work is completed.
Just like having a qualified roofing professional on speed-dial, make a plan beforehand of places to stay, whether that’s a family member’s home, a friend’s house, or a hotel.
Speak to your insurance agent
Once all the other major calls have been made, it's time to speak to your insurance agent. Most likely your home insurance will cover at least some of the costs of repair. If this is the case, you’ll want to closely follow any guidelines and procedures in place to get the most coverage.
Take pictures of the damage to have on record in case your insurance company asks to see the extent of the disaster.
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Secure the home as much as possible
If the extent of the damage causes you to leave your home, make sure it’s locked up before you leave. It’s a chaotic situation, but be sure to secure the home before leaving the property.
- Check all doors and windows to make sure they’re locked
- Remove any valuables you can carry
- Take all important documents that may be damaged by the elements
While it may seem silly to lock up windows and doors while there is a gaping hole in the roof, don’t make it any easier for scumbags to break in.