Working as a forester and volunteering for search-and-rescue...
What is a widowmaker? In the general sense, it's anything that has the potential to kill men, thereby making widows of their wives. In a more specific sense, widowmakers are dead branches caught precariously high in trees, ready to fall on unsuspecting individuals below. This term has been used widely in the forest service and logging communities, and is even officially recognized by OSHA.
A deadly tree might sound like something that would only be found in a freak accident, but these natural dangers do more harm than you might think. In fact, just this week, a man in Edinburgh, Scotland, was killed by a widowmaker. He had been camping in the woods by a river, and was pronounced dead at the scene once emergency services arrived.
So, if you're camping or spending time in forested areas, you should know how to watch for potential widowmakers. This is especially important for hammock camping, since these shelters are almost always placed underneath trees.
Here are some general tips on how to avoid widowmakers:
For more information on the hazards posed by trees, visit the OSHA Logging eTool.