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What NOT to do after a storm


Failed tree on 35th Ave NE, February, 2008. Photo by Darren Morgan.

Snow, ice, or wind storms often result in fallen tree limbs, which can be a minor nuisance or a major problem.  Residents eager to clean up can expose themselves to life threatening conditions.  A primary concern with fallen limbs is electricity.  If there are any wires on the ground and/or tangled up in fallen branches, do not even approach them.  Even if you don’t touch the wire itself, the entire length of the branch or even the ground nearby could be electrified.  If there are limbs lying across or hanging from electrical wires do not attempt to free them without first contacting City Light.  If you suspect for any reason that wires are involved in a downed limb or tree, call Seattle City Light at (206) 386-1733.   For more information visit the City Light Vegetation Management page:

 SDOT Urban Forestry staff members do not recommend that homeowners use chainsaws to remove downed branches.   Fallen branches can be under considerable pressure, causing the branches to react in unpredictable ways when cut; the saw operator can be injured by the logs or cut by the saw.  Slippery footing and unexpected shifts in the fallen branch can cause the operator to lose balance or fall.  Small mistakes while using a chainsaw can cause serious injuries before the operator can react.  For more information about storm safety and chainsaws: .

 If a tree or limb has fallen and is blocking a street or sidewalk, call the SDOT 24-hour dispatch at (206) 386-1218.  City crews will take action to ensure the safety of the right-of-way, regardless of tree ownership.  If the tree is an SDOT-maintained tree, SDOT Urban Forestry will remove fallen limbs, clear debris, and prune or remove the tree as necessary.  If the tree is privately-maintained, SDOT crews will ensure the safety of the right-of-way but will not necessarily remove all debris.  It is up to the adjacent property owner to remove debris from privately-maintained trees.  Property owners are encouraged to hire a tree care company to prune or remove damaged street trees, with a free permit.  To check the maintenance responsibility of a tree, refer to the Street Tree Map:   If your tree is not on the map or have questions, email SDOT Urban Forestry at  For more information on tree pruning and removal permits:

 Please be careful during and after storms!