First, it’s quiet. Then there’s a creaking. Finally, an almighty crash. It’s a sound that all too many homeowners hear: the sound of a tree smashing into their roof. If you live in a wooded area, there’s only so much you can do to mitigate the risk of it happening to you. But, sometimes, there’s nothing you can do. Should worst come to worst, here’s what to do when a tree falls on your house.
Evacuate the House
The first thing you want to do when a tree falls on your house is, before anything else, get everyone out of the house safely. You may have the urge to run and take stock of the damage to your home and belongings, but every second you spend in the house puts you and your loved ones at more risk. There will be plenty of time to figure out what to do about the roof after. Just get everyone out.
If you don’t have one already, it would be worth your while to develop an emergency evacuation plan for your home. Determine who will perform what role in the event of an emergency, what your exit plan is, and where you’ll gather after you’re safely out of the house. We also recommend putting together an emergency bag with supplies, cash, and copies of important documents to take with you in the event of an evacuation. That way, no matter what happens to your home, you’ll have what you need to figure out the next steps.
Contact Emergency Services
Once everyone is outside, call the authorities and explain the situation to them. They’ll be able to coach you through what to do when a tree falls on your house, as well as provide the backup you need. Even if the damage looks minimal, it’s extremely important you don’t try to handle the situation by yourself. A small branch can still cause serious structural damage to your roof, making climbing on the roof a perilous task. This is doubly true in the event of a storm knocking a tree onto your house, where heavy rainfall will make your roof slick and climbing on the roof will put you at risk of being struck by lightning.
Additionally, if your lights go out or flicker when you’re evacuating, you may be dealing with fallen power lines. If you can see—or even just suspect—that the tree has taken power lines down with it, cut the power from your breaker box immediately. Downed power lines can still be live, putting your house in danger of fire and you in danger of electrocution. Once emergency services arrive, let them handle the situation. They’ll be able to determine if the house is safe to enter or not, as well as if there are any electrical problems that might cause a fire.
Assess the House and Prevent Further Damage
Once the immediate danger is dealt with, you can start worrying about your property. You could be dealing with serious damages when a tree falls on your house, and not all of it may be visible. Take a look around the perimeter of your home and see if there is any major structural damage to the building that will need to be repaired. If the tree has punched any holes in your roof or broken any windows, you’ll need to seal them up as soon as possible to prevent any additional internal damage from the weather.
You may also be dealing with damaged gas lines, depending on how the tree fell. While gas lines run underground, there’s still a chance that a falling tree could damage the point where they enter your home. If you’re not sure whether or not your gas lines have been damaged, take the precaution of turning them off. You’d much rather just have to turn them back on later than deal with gas leaking into an already unstable house.
Contact Your Insurance Company
When you feel like you have a good idea of the damage and have taken steps to prevent the situation from getting worse, you’ll need to get in touch with your insurance company. They’ll be able to guide you through the particulars of what to do when a tree falls on your house as they relate to you. Most home insurance policies have coverage for storm or debris damage, helping you mitigate the cost of repairs and tree removal. If you haven’t already, be sure to take plenty of pictures of your home to document the damage. Include any damage to the house, as well as to any of your belongings inside. The photo record will be crucial to your insurance claim, so be as thorough as possible.
Reach Out to Oceanside Restoration
Once you’ve documented the damage and secured your property, you can finally get rid of the tree that started it all. Get in touch with us and get your house back to new again.