On July 15, a young boy was struck by a falling tree in Jefferson County.
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“With heavy hearts, we're sad to report that the 4-year-old boy who was struck by a fallen tree has died from his injuries,” said a tweet from the Jeffco Sheriff’s Office later that day.
Jeffco Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Jacki Kelley later said that South Metro Fire Rescue had received a call early that morning with a report of the injury. Kelley said the boy, who was visiting from out of town with his family, had been slacklining in the yard with other children before the accident occurred.
How safe are your trees?
If homeowners or renters are concerned about the health and safety of trees in their yard, the website arborday.org provides tips to help identify unhealthy or potentially failing trees.
"A tree with structural defects likely to cause failure is considered a high risk or hazardous tree if it could strike a target,” according to the website.
A target can be a vehicle, building or a place where people gather, like a bench, picnic table or fire pit. However, it could also literally be any place a falling tree in your yard could strike you.
Arborday.org advises homeowners to inspect trees in their yard once a year and after severe storms.
Inspection may allow you time to correct any problems with a tree before they create serious risk. Inspections can be done at any time of year, whether leaves are present or not.
What to look for
A thorough examination of a tree includes roots, trunk flare, branches and branch unions. The general condition of the tree can sometimes be determined by the appearance of dead twigs, branches and small off-color leaves.
In general, healthy trees will have strong branches and full-sized leaves, but don’t be too quick to judge overall health by the appearance of lush, green leaves at the crown of the tree, as defects in the trunk or branches can still exist.
Know your trees
One thing arborday.org recommends is knowing the type of trees you have and the characteristics those trees are likely to display.
For example, a University of Maryland Extension fact sheet cites Cytospora, a fungal infection that causes cankers in tree branches and trunks as being one of the most damaging diseases in Colorado Blue Spruce trees.
The virus also is know to be extremely damaging to Aspen trees.
A similar study by Nicholas Brazee at the University of Massachusetts Amherst points out that shade and wet weather allow the fungal pathogen to accelerate. So, winter and spring weather conditions can especially hard on trees that are infected.
Seven main types of defects offer visible signs that a tree may be failing and unpredictable, creating greater chances of breaking or falling, according to arborday.org. These defects include dead wood, cracks, weak branch unions, decay, cankers, root problems and poor tree form.
“A dead branch and treetop that is already broken off ('hanger’ or 'widow maker’) is especially dangerous,” the website states.
You should act immediately if a dead branch is hanging or lodged in the top of a tree, a tree is dead, you find deep splits or cracks in the stem or trunk or advanced decay is present.
Do the best you can to determine the extent of any damage that may require immediate action. And when in doubt, call a professional tree service for assistance.
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