Tuesday, June 01, 2010

In Your Backyard: Preparation Is Critical

June 1st signals the first day of hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin. This year NOAA has issued their projections of fifteen hurricanes with eight major storms. The hurricane names will be:

1. Hurricane Alex
2. Hurricane Bonnie
3. Hurricane Colin
4. Hurricane Danielle
5. Hurricane Earl
6. Hurricane Fiona
7. Hurricane Gaston
8. Hurricane Hermine
9. Hurricane Igor
10. Hurricane Julia
11. Hurricane Karl
12. Hurricane Lisa
13. Hurricane Matthew
14. Hurricane Nicole
15. Hurricane Otto
16. Hurricane Paula
17. Hurricane Richard
18. Hurricane Shary
19. Hurricane Tomas
20. Hurricane Virginie
21. Hurricane Walter

How many will hit Florida is yet in Fate's hands. But you need to be prepared!

By June 1st, all your preparations to weather a Category 1-5 hurricane should be completed. That means that you have enough food and water to last a few days, that weather stripping and house renovations are finished, and that your landscape and yard have had a walk-through to remove anything that could damage your house or be windblown during a storm.

Have you inspected your trees? Large limbs in older trees that form a vee and deep crotch could be weak and break or mask a hollow interior that will easily uproot with strong winds. Check out any limbs hanging over homes or are growing together. Look closely for heavy limbs that hang over homes, cross or rub together.

It's important to understand that it's not just pruning a tree, or cutting off limbs that will make it safe and healthy. Cutting trees improperly can make them more dangerous in a storm or and actually reduce the life of the tree. Never try to cut large trees yourself. Always use a certified arborist.

A certified arborist is the only person who should help homeowners make a decision on what limbs to prune or if a tree should be removed. You can easily find certified arborists through the International Society of Arborculture. By inputting your zip code, city, you can find several qualified arborists in your area. If you have an arborist's name or license number, you can verify his certification and good standing.

Before hiring an arborist, it's always a good idea to get three bids so that you feel comfortable that the service is actually needed and with the cost. Professionals understand that you will be calling other arborists for bids. That's part of the business. Don't be afraid to say that you need to check them out or get other bids to price check.

The best advice is to make sure that you're planting the right tree in the first place. The University of Florida/IFAS has enough studies that they now have determined which trees are the most wind-resistant. You can read that study here. It will save a lot of work and money in protecting your home during hurricanes if you select properly for your site.

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