What you should do if a tree falls on your house or car — and how to prevent it from happening at all

Hurricane Irma, once a Category 5 monster with record-breaking 185-mph winds, weakened to a tropical storm as it plowed into Georgia Monday and took at least three lives in the state.

» RELATED: Irma assaults Georgia: Three dead and nearly 1.5 million without power

Two people were crushed by falling trees and another was swept off his roof by high winds, the AJC previously reported.

Irma’s wrath also left more than 1.1 million people in Georgia without power Tuesday as downed trees and power lines blocked off several metro Atlanta roads.

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Hurricane Irma, now downgraded to a tropical depression, killed more than 42 people in the Caribbean, Florida and Georgia.

If you’re experiencing tree damage following the tropical storm, here are some expert tips on tree safety, removal and more from Ryan Smith, owner of Monster Tree Service of Peachtree:

Signs of trees in danger

  • Dead branches or branches barely hanging by a thread
  • Insect infestations
  • Hollowing inside the tree
  • Leaking sap
  • Cracks in the lower trunk or large stems split from the tree
  • Severed or broken roots
  • Noticeable tree lean after a storm

» RELATED: 10 things to do once the storm passes

What to do if a tree falls on your property — and who to call for help

Do not attempt to self-clean.

According to Smith, this is one of the most dangerous mistakes people make after a tree causes damage on their property.

“So many people get hurt after a storm because they get on the roof to try and fix the damage themselves and slip and fall,” he said. “Our experts won’t even do that without the proper equipment.”

» RELATED: PHOTOS: Tropical Storm Irma arrives in Georgia

Alsostay away from the damaged areas

If you walk on compromised areas, such as near downed power lines, the repercussions could be quite dangerous, Smith said.

Immediately call a tree removal service, but avoid getting scammed

You want to find a tree removal company that not only carries insurance, but specifically includes workers’ compensation.

This is because the biggest risk during tree removal is someone getting damaged on property, Smith said.

When calling the company, ask for certificates and proof of liability insurance and workers’ compensation.

» RELATED: Gov. Deal warns that recovery will take time

Remember to look out for any unsolicited offers and too-good-to-be-true bargains. It’s always best to double check references and read reviews.

Be sure to sign a written agreement before the work, and unless it’s just a small deposit, there’s no reason to pay up front.

My tree hasn’t fallen yetbut it’s definitely leaning towards my property

A tree lean isn’t always a bad thing and can be quite normal or healthy. But if you’re concerned and if the tree lean is especially noticeable after a storm, call a local arborist to come check it out.

» RELATED: Wife of ex-police chief killed when tree falls on car

How to prevent tree problems in the future

  • Perform a self-assessment every six months by walking around your front and back yards and checking for any signs of decay or concern.
  • Schedule an arborist to come and check your property every year or every other year.

Oftentimes, a tree company will be able to identify the root of any problems and offer treatments before they become dangerous.

For example, Smith said, it could be as simple as using a chemical or environmental treatment, removing sawdust at the base of a tree decaying due to a pine beetle infestation or asking you to adjust your sprinkler head away from another.

» RELATED: All the latest news and information on Irma

Monster Tree Service of Peachtree primarily serves the following cities: Brooks, Fairburn, Fayetteville, Moreland, Newnan, Palmetto, Peachtree City, Sargent, Senoia, Sharpsburg, Turn, Tyrone and Union City.

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