Spot and Avoid Dangerous Tree Limbs

Spot and Avoid Dangerous Tree Limbs

What is a widowmaker? In the general sense, widowmakers are dead branches caught precariously high in trees, ready to fall anytime. This term has been used widely in the Forest Service and logging communities, and is even officially recognized by OSHA.
 

A deadly tree might sound like something that would be found only in a freak accident, but these natural dangers do more harm than you might think. So, if you’re camping or spending time in forested areas, you should know how to watch for potential widowmakers. This is especially important for hammock camping, since these shelters are almost always placed underneath trees.
 

Here are some tips to avoid widowmakers:

  • If possible, do not camp directly underneath tall trees. This is the only surefire way to avoid widowmaker branches.
  • Be extra cautious around trees that look dead or damaged. They pose the greatest risk.
  • If you’re in a heavily forested area, keep an eye out for dead or broken branches in the canopy above you.
  • High winds and snowfall can increase the risks by weakening or dislodging branches.
  • When you do notice a potential widowmaker branch, avoid it.
  • Should you spot a widowmaker on your property, you may want to dislodge it carefully from a distance, or hire a tree trimmer. These professionals can cut away dead wood and remove loose branches.
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