Wind is one of my biggest concerns when it comes to safety in the mountains. Many people have lost their lives to falling branches during wind storms. I even know a member of Seattle Outdoor Adventurer’s Meetup that was struck by a branch during a wind storm and suffered shoulder injuries just a few years ago.
If the wind is blowing hard enough to whip the branches around (usually 30 mph and greater), cancel your hike and get out of the woods. The larger the group, the bigger the target. This is a dangerous situation outdoors. It is even more dangerous if there is snow and ice in the trees which become weighted and brittle.
If you are backpacking and get caught high winds, set your tent up next to a fallen tree or large rock. This will help protect you from falling trees while in your tent. For those who join my Winter beach trips, this is an especially important tip.
There is a reason falling branches and trees in the woods are called Widow-Makers.