A Tree Fell on My House And Crushed My Bagel | Studying the Seattle Autonomous Zone | SAFETY DOC PODCAST #139

[Podcast] Violent storms slammed our intrepid host’s city and spun entire neighborhoods into chaos. Doc explains how simulated annealing guided him to the other side of chaos in record time as he had to inventory his options and progressively make correct decisions in response to a tree crashing into his house. Fumble this prescribed process, however, and Doc cautions that you’ll languish as others recover. Read the full blog post for episode #139 at safetyphd.com.

DIRECT LINK to MP3 of this Episode: https://tinyurl.com/SDP139-AUDIO


At 8PM Tuesday, a severe storm rapidly descended upon Doc’s city. Although meteorologists cautioned of potential severe weather, the local news and emergency management didn’t activate the storm alerts and city sirens. This was the fastest onset storm Doc recalls and it also concluded in just 15 minutes. No hail, no heavy rains, just deafening winds. Seconds into the storm, Doc heard and felt a “thud” and immediately knew a tree had fallen on his house. He glanced out the front window and saw limbs thrashing against the siding and decided to shelter in the basement with his family.


Within minutes, the storm subsided. Daylight enabled a cursory assessment of the situation. Doc’s next step harkened back to what he learned in firefighting training – always conduct an environmental risk assessment when entering a dangerous situation. Too many accounts of firefighters stepping off engines and onto downed power lines or utility workers being paralyzed by falling tree limbs as they hastily work to restore electricity to a neighborhood. It’s easy to take that first step as 99% of the time there won’t be a consequence.


The bagel is a metaphor Dr. Perrodin uses in his book School of Errors to describe how daily life has routines that periodically are disrupted or shattered. Doc assessed the point of impact between the tree and his house; then his entire property; and then his neighborhood. His house was damaged, but by luck, the windows weren’t smashed and water wasn’t leaking into the house. As the sun set, he went inside his house, retrieved a manilla folder and labeled it “June 2020 Storm Damage.” He then took a pad and scribed his recollection of the storm and his observations – carefully time stamping things. Next, he emailed his local insurance agent with a summary of the event, known damage, and photos. After that, he called the 24 hour claim number and filed a report. He was informed he had made the 8th report of damage in the area – and a day later when the adjuster arrived, she reported more than 150 claims had been in the area for that insurer. Act fast, get to the top of the queue, and you’ll be further ahead on the return to similarity than people who waited to make claims.


Within an hour of the storm, Doc texted his builder and asked if he could assess the damage to his property. At 8 AM the next day, one of the crew arrived with a truck, assessed the damage, and worked with Doc to remove the tree. Earlier that day, Doc took photos and videos of the damage and included a whiteboard with date and address in the images. He printed some of the images for the paper file and also for the adjuster. Doc then took the damaged window screens to the shop that morning and the insurance adjuster arrived in the afternoon. In less than 24 hours, Doc assessed and stabilized the damage and began the restoration process.


Doc’s old, large-capacity steel wheelbarrow was in high demand to haul wood and debris. In fact, it was the only wheelbarrow he saw in the neighborhood.


We are living in a time of concurrent crises: pandemic, civil unrest, and severe weather. Doc shares that his member check network is observing a  lot of people fraying due to information overload. This condition is exacerbated by what is known as cyberchondria (a type of confirmation bias) which manifests as constant online searching for information which fuels your underlying worry. For example, if you spend your entire night on Twitter refreshing #Seattle #CHAZ, you will experience increasing anxiety and begin to display functional impairment such as not being able to sleep. SUMMARY: (1) Shelter during severe weather; (2) conduct a risk assessment before you wander outside; (3) document in writing and photos and timestamp; and (4) quickly report and secure resources to remedy problems.

This is episode #139 of The Safety Doc Podcast


Purchase Dr. Perrodin’s Book: Schools of Errors – Rethinking School Safety in America