This year has seen one disaster after another in several parts of the country. From tornadoes and fires to most recently, a disastrous hurricane in southwest FL. It may be too late to prepare for a current emergency, but you can always be prepared for the future. The most important thing to do? Have a plan. Don’t THINK about having a plan – HAVE A PLAN! Flooding and fire are the two most common causes for evacuation from not only your homes, but from your barn as well. Who will do what, where will horses go, what about hay and feed, how will you i.d. your horses later?
-How will you monitor the situation – TV, radio, social media? Who is most likely to have the most up to date information? Social media is great, but they may not have the most accurate information or all the information such as road closures, evacuation centers, etc. Make sure you have a reliable news station that is easily accessible.
-Who is responsible for relaying the information to horse owners or others associated with your barn? How will you communicate this?
-Will owners be required to come in and take care of their own horses or will the barn manager take responsibility as the lead on decisions.
-What are the options for evacuation? A barn fire may just necessitate moving horses to a faraway pasture. Larger disasters may mean moving several miles away. Is everyone going together? Who decides who goes where?
-Who has trailers, how many horses can each haul, who is most likely to be able to get to the barn quickly, and can others haul someone’s trailer if the owner is not available?
-Will you take feed and supplies for all horses or are owners responsible for getting their own feed. What about medications?
-Will someone be responsible for taking tack, water/feed buckets, etc?
-Do you have an emergency supply of halters and lead ropes stored somewhere for easy access. Even if you normally keep your horse’s halter close by, in all the chaos of evacuation you may find your halter/lead missing.
-If your horse isn’t comfortable being trailered, practice, practice and practice so that he loads easily. An emergency is no time to learn your horse isn’t a good loader.
-Finally, look at the tough decisions. What will you do if you can’t take your horses? It’s better to put on a break-away halter with your i.d. and turn them loose. They will do their best to survive. Don’t tie them up or leave them in a stall and hope someone will come and rescue them.
There are several ways you can i.d. your horse. Use an engravable dog tag and attach it to your horse’s halter, write your phone number on your horse’s hooves. Or, write your contact information and seal in a waterproof bag. Braid or tie it into your horse’s mane.
We hope you never have to face a disaster that puts you or your animals at risk. But just in case, make sure you have a plan in place – and everyone knows what it is. More importantly, always take emergency evacuation calls seriously.
Courtesy of Classic Equine Equipment