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Credit: iStock / Sveta

Recognizing and reducing tree hazards not only increases the safety of your property and that of your neighbours, but will also improve the tree's health and may increase its longevity, says Jim Skiera of the International Society of Arboriculture. You can take precautions to prevent damage. Remove dead, diseased and damaged limbs; consider removing trees with large cavities of decay; have leaning trees inspected as they may indicate a root problem; prune branches too close to your house, a building or the street to provide clearance; and prune or remove branches that are too close or touching utility lines. If this last work is needed, call your local utility—do not attempt to prune the tree yourself. Always prune tree branches with an upward cut beyond your final cut to prevent tearing, a second cut beyond your final cut to remove the bulk of the branch and a third cut an inch from the bark collar ring to allow for healing. For more information contact a local ISA-certified arborist or visit www.treesaregood.org