Check branches before ice storm arrives

Posted at 6:07 PM, Dec 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-07 19:29:42-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- With snow, sleet and ice on tap for much Virginia -- and the East Coast -- power outages from downed trees and branches are likely.

Dominion Virginia Power, whose crews will likely be dealing with outages, are advising customers to stay away from downed wires.

"Do not touch it. Stay away from down lines and call us as soon as possible," Dominion Virginia Power's David Botkins said.

Botkins pointed said the amount of ice will determine the number of people in the dark.

"If we were to get over a quarter of an inch to the half-inch range, we would see widespread outages. Largely, as a result of tree limbs falling because that additional weight is going to bring a tree limb down," Botkins said.

That's why experts are urging Central Virginians to examine trees near their homes and vehicles before the storm hits.

"Look for branches that are overhanging on your house or some vulnerable structure," Chesterfield County Cooperative Extension Director Michael Likins said.

Additionally, Likins pointed out that Oak and Maple trees often cannot handle the ice.

"Branches that come out almost right angles are very strong. Those that come very narrow what we call the 'v-crouch.' Those are very unstable," Likins said.

Those branches can be very unstable, so they should be cut down. Experts advise folks to use a licensed tree trimmer for the job.

"Just pruning a branch can do a lot of long-term damage to a tree, if it's not done correctly," Likins said. "It sets the stage for decay that will show up 10 [to] 15 years later."

When that happens, those beautiful trees could come crashing down and destroy your home.

If a tree is on city or county property, and it falls in your yard or on your home, call that locality and crews will come out to remove it. However, if a tree is on your property, it is your responsibility to remove it.

Click here for Chesterfield County's list of certified tree trimmers.