Protecting Your Trees From Storm Damage

With their girth, large trees may seem indestructible but though they may withstand most things, hurricane-force winds, lightning, and floods brought about by non-stop rain can wreak havoc on the plants. From their root system up to their trunks and branches, extreme weather can permanently damage your trees, or even—in the case of lightning strikes—kill them outright!

There are plenty of ways that you can do to avoid tree storm damage from happening. Today, let’s find out some of the most effective tips to successfully storm-proof your trees. Here they are:

Keep Trees Strong and Healthy

The first and the most effective step to storm-proof trees is by keeping them strong and healthy long before a storm arrives and ruin everything in your yard. There is no question that healthy trees can withstand most extreme weather conditions compared to weaker ones. Branches are less likely to fall and cause damages on the plants’ immediate area when the trees are strong and completely healthy.
There are several things that you can do to ensure that trees grow healthy. Providing them with proper water, regular and corrective pruning and fertilizer depending on the species are the most important steps. Just make sure to start these routines when trees are still young. Don’t wait for your trees’ health to decline before you start taking good care of them.

Trim Trees Regularly

At first, you may think that tree pruning damages your tree what with all the sawing off of branches and thinning its foliage. However, when pruning is done in the proper way, it can help trees withstand storms. It is highly advised that you start pruning your trees while they are young in order for them to develop a strong central trunk.
Pruning has a lot of advantages. Besides removing dead and weak branches, it also boosts proper structure and growth of your trees. Regularly conducting tree pruning can shape your trees in becoming more resistant to weather damage. But, the result of tree pruning greatly depends on how it is done. When done improperly, the effects of tree pruning may be counterproductive.

Protect Tree’s Root System

Roots may be hidden underneath the ground but they are actually critical to the total stability and strength of any tree. They can be considered as the tree’s anchor, keeping them stable even when the winds are strong enough to uproot the whole tree.
In order to keep the roots of trees deeply grounded, you have to minimize activities that may impede its growth or compromise the nutrients of the soil where your trees were planted. Some activities to be avoided include construction work and excavation.
One of the best ways to help protect your tree’s root system is by mulching the ground. Putting an extensive mulch ring around the tree’s base has numerous benefits which include preserving the nutrients and water from the soil; it even prevents weed growth.  Be careful, however, not to place the mulch too high up the trunk – the critical gas and air exchange is at the base.

Protect Tree Trunks As Well

Aside from the root system, the trunk of the tree should also be protected. If you are expecting a strong storm in your area, you can provide a tree’s trunk added protection by wrapping it with protective material like row cover or even burlap. These materials can protect your tree against flying debris, but need to be removed after the worst weather.

Plant the Right Kind of Tree

If your area frequently has storms, then you should be extra careful with the trees you are planting in your yard. There are several tree species that can withstand the storm better than any other species. As revealed by Kansas State University horticulturist Bob Neier, the red maple, red oak, linden, bald cypress, autumn blaze maple, and the Austrian pine are some of the sturdier trees.
In general, trees that are healthy endure storms way better than the rest. If you don’t want your trees to end up deteriorating due to extreme weather conditions, then be a responsible tree owner—provide the plants with proper watering, regular and corrective pruning and nutrients.

Hurricanes 101 | The 2018 Hurricane Season

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is in full force, and recent storms indicate that the coastal region is in for a pummeling this year. To help raise awareness for storm preparedness, we suggest that you keep the following information throughout the 2018 season.

Hurricane season starts June 1st and runs through November 30th. This is when tropical storm conditions are most favorable for hurricane development. A tropical disturbance becomes a tropical storm and is given a name when sustained winds around the center of the storm reach 39 mph. A tropical storm is upgraded to hurricane status when sustained winds reach 74 mph. Last year, hurricanes Harvey and Maria wreaked havoc. Harvey delivered a beating to southern Texas, while Maria — the 10th most intense hurricane on record — destroyed parts of Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands. Both of these storms ranked among the top five most costly hurricanes in United States history.

Last year’s season ended with 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes, slightly more than what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had predicted. The Atlantic basin typically averages 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. Each spring, NOAA forecasts for the upcoming hurricane season. This year’s storm activity was projected at 75, which will be at normal or above-normal levels. NOAA also predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms — those with winds of 39 mph or higher. Of these, five to nine could become hurricanes, with one to four turning into major hurricanes (category 3 or above).

Forecasting, though helpful, cannot provide the most critical information to residents living in hurricane-prone areas such as the Gulf Coast. Similarly, coastal regions along the Carolinas and even as far north as Boston can be at high risk for hurricane-force winds. This year’s predictions indicate an increased risk for these areas specifically.

NOAA’s predictions are based on storm formations, not landfalls. What this means is that although forecasts predict an extremely active hurricane season, some of these storms might never hit land or harm anyone. It is important to note that hurricanes are formed by complicated weather variables, global trends and weather patterns in place as the storms approach land, making it difficult to predict impact, according to the CPC.

The storms of 2017 caused devastating damage, but according to a recent NOAA report, we gained the most accurate storm-path predictions on record, which helped communities prepare for the hurricanes and potentially saved lives. Improvements in computer processing, analytics and modeling have contributed to the greatest predictive power increase of technology and science to date.

Overall, there may be severe weather and destruction, but with the trend of increasingly accurate storm forecasts and computer modeling, we will better be able to see these storms coming.

4 Ways to Protect Your Home From Lightning

Lightning is a major risk of property damage to both homeowners and renters because it causes fires and power surges that damage electronics. The Insurance Information Institute reported lightning strikes cost $739 million in homeowners insurance losses in 2014, up 9.7 percent from 2013. 

What’s more, the report stated that the amount of claims was declining (due to lightning protection technology) and the average cost per claim was rising, as damaged electronics become more expensive.

Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, there are steps you can take to prevent your property from being damaged. Here are four simple ways to protect your home from lightning:

Use a Home Lightning Protection System

One of the best ways for homeowners, in particular, to protect their homes from lightning is to install a home lightning protection system. A properly installed system is approximately 99 percent effective in preventing lightning damage. Lightning protection systems can include:

Lightning Rods
Main Conductors
Grounds
Bonds
Surge Protectors

The Lightning Protection Institute also noted that homeowners may receive a credit on their homeowners insurance by installing a lightning protection system.

Unplug Electronics and Appliances

In addition to causing structural fires, lightning can damage the electronics in your home. Lightning can cause power surge damage if it uses your home’s electrical wiring system as its primary or secondary path. The electrical surge can damage even non-electrical appliances. An easy step both owners and renters can take to avoid electrical damage is to unplug any electronic devices or appliances in anticipation of a storm.

Install Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors

There are always going to be times when you’re not available to unplug your electronics, such as during a vacation. One way to make sure your electronics are always protected from lightning is to install transient voltage surge protectors. According to Allstate, transient voltage surge protectors are connected to computers and other electronic equipment to limit voltage to 1.5 times the normal voltage.

Check Your Homeowners and Renters Insurance Coverage

Even if you take all the precautionary steps, you will want to make sure your homeowners insurance and renters insurance plans cover damage caused by lightning. Not all insurance plans are the same, so make sure yours will cover damage done to your home and electronics.

It is especially important to make sure you are covered in case of lightning damage if you live in an area that has frequent lightning storms. According to State Farm, the top 10 states for lightning damage insurance claims in 2014 were: Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Florida and Missouri.

Time For Your Annual Insurance Review

Time For Your Annual Insurance Review

It’s almost time for year-end reviews. Is your insurance coverage included on the review list? If not, it should be. Let us help you with this insurance checklist as a starting point to review your policies and address any gaps in your coverage, as well as potential cost savings.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Change in Value – If your house has gone up in appraisal value, the amount of your policy may not be enough to rebuild your home completely. Improvements or renovations that increase your home’s value may require adjusting your insurance coverage through the same logic.

Extended Coverage – Do you have jewelry or other valuables that you would rather insure on your homeowner’s policy than insure separately (or not at all)? Add any riders you need, and check the coverage limitations and adjust them if they are inadequate.

New Discounts – Insurers add and change discounts all the time, and changes in your situation may qualify you for different savings. Check with your insurer to see if you qualify for any new discounts. Don’t forget indirect items lowering the risk on your home, like the fire department putting in a nearby hydrant.

Life Insurance

Life Changes – Birth, death, marriage, divorce, job loss and other family status changes may require adjustments to your policy. Of course, if you have experienced death personally, someone else will be taking care of that adjustment for you.

Changes in Income – If your income has increased significantly, you may need to increase your coverage for your family to maintain their standard of living should you pass away. Conversely, if your income is lower, you may not be able to afford your current policy and will have to work with your agent to find a suitable adjustment.

Changes in Life Insurance Policies and Provisions – Occasionally, life insurance carriers introduce new and innovative features that may be of benefit to consumers. Desirable options may be introduced to those of us with existing coverage when we schedule an annual insurance review. One type of option that is proving desirable for many has been what are called “living benefits” that allow the death benefit to be triggered for such things as long-term care expenses, critical, chronic, and terminal illnesses while we are still alive. Some of these options did not exist years ago.

Retirement/Estate Plans – Changes in your retirement needs or estate plans may involve your life insurance policies. Adjust them accordingly, if you can – whole life and certain other policies do not have much capacity for adjustment.

Auto Insurance

New Drivers – Has your teen started driving? You will need to get them a policy of their own or add them onto yours. Check your healthcare plan for discounts on Xanax while you are at it. Search under “parent of teen driver.”

Car Status – As your car ages, you may be able to drop or change elements of your coverage, such as the collision and comprehensive (C&C) portion of your policy. C&C becomes less useful as the annual premiums start to approach the current value of your car.

Discount Status – Auto insurance is particularly filled with potential discounts. Check with your insurer to see if you qualify for new discounts based on any changes in status or driving habits.

You need an annual health insurance review as well (thanks to ObamaCare, many of us have no choice), but that scope goes well beyond the space we have here. If you receive insurance through an employer, it is wise to check with your employer to review any changes on your part or theirs that require adjusting your coverage.

If you have any categories of less common insurance, do not forget to check those policies as well.

A common thread to saving money under all of the insurance categories is to shop around. You may find a better deal, or at the very least find leverage you can use to negotiate a better deal with your existing insurer.