Tree Hazards and Safety Issues

What are the signs of a hazardous tree?

A hazardous tree is a tree, or a portion of a tree, that is in danger of falling and presents a threat to life or property. Sometimes the hazard posed by a tree is obvious, such as when a tree is in visibly poor health or leaning precariously. Other times, serious conditions may exist that are not as obvious to the casual observer. The following are some conditions that may indicate a serious problem exists that may create a hazard to the surrounding environment.

  • Dead branches in the tree or on the ground near the tree.
  • Mushrooms near the base of the tree.
  • Excessive leaf loss or dead leaves in the crown (the upper portion) of the tree.
  • Areas of rotten wood or cavities.
  • Nearby trees have died or have significant damage.
  • Noticeable change in the leaning of the tree.
  • Damage to the ground surrounding the tree from construction, erosion or storms.

Additional information on hazardous trees can be found at the USDA Forest Service.


What do I do if I see a hazardous tree?

If you are concerned about a hazardous tree situation, please consider the following options first.

  • If a tree presents an immediate life-threatening hazard, including falling onto electric wires or it is blocking a public road, call 9-1-1.
  • If there is a tree fallen across utility lines, please call the appropriate electrical company, such as Dominion Power, 1-888-667-3000, TTY 1-800-522-4015, or NOVEC, 703-335-0500 or 1-888-335-0500, TTY 711.
  • Stay away and never attempt to approach or touch trees or limbs that contact power lines, as they are considered extremely dangerous.


Who handles hazardous tree situations in Fairfax County?

The responsibility for hazardous trees on public property generally lies with the agency that owns or maintains the property. The following links contain contact information for hazardous trees on public and private property.

How do you find out who owns the piece of property where the hazardous tree is located?

Use the tax assessment tool. As long as you know the address or the unique parcel identifier (PIN) number of the property you have a question about, then you can find out the ownership.

More Questions?

Please contact the Fairfax County Urban Forest Management Division at 703-324-1770, TTY 711, or by email.


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