By: Sarah Pratt
The weather is an unpredictable force to be reckoned with and it is up to us to be prepared as we can be.
A ounce of preparation NOW can mean a ton less worry and panic later.
Top Ten Tips:
1. BARN/STABLE PREPARATIONS – store all lose items, jump standards, jump cups, cross rails, arena letters, bleachers, furniture etc. inside the barn or storage area so that these items do not become dangerous projectiles in high winds. Secure any loose roofing materials. Secure all gates. Clear items not permanently and securely attached from all aisle ways and barn walls and store them in a safe places.
Check area for dead or dying trees that could be blown over in high winds. Have your local tree surgeon inspect your property for an assessment and clean up.
2. POWER OUTTAGES – Install lighting with battery back up if possible in case of power outage or have flashlights ready to go (don’t forget the batteries)
3. FIRST AID – Always keep an equine first aid kit stocked and accessible (check expiry dates) You should have a supply of topical antiseptics, gauze pads, vet wrap etc. Don’t forget to plan ahead and keep a supply of any required medications (at least a weeks worth)
4. FEED – You should also have access to feed and hay in the event that the storm wipes out your barn and feed room. Wrap hay securely in water proof tarps or plastic. Store feed in tightly sealed water tight containers. Move wrapped hay and containers of feed to the highest spot possible. Do not use feed or hay that has been in flood waters. Plan to have sufficient hay, feed, and water on hand for your horses for at least a week.
5. WATER – Plan to have 15 to 20 gallons of water per horse per day. Remember, if the electricity is off, your pump will probably not work. If the water is questionable, you can purify it with 8 drops of chlorine bleach per gallon, or 12 drops if the water is murky. Use “low-grade” hay, and DON’T leave the horses with grain. This will reduce the likelihood that they will founder. You must make sure you have an adequate water source (two or three buckets will not suffice if it is several days before you are able to get back) since you don’t know for sure when you will be able to return to the barn. If possible, invest in a couple of water troughs that, when filled with water, will be too heavy to tip over, unless we get a direct hurricane hit or Fill clean plastic garbage cans with water and cover tightly and store in a safe place – it may be days after a storm that you have access to clean water again.
4. EMERGENCY BARN KIT – put together a chain saw and fuel, hammers, a saw, nails, screws, fencing materials and fire ant killer. Purchase several rolls of orange plastic wind/construction fencing. If your horses are used to being fenced, this fencing will contain them until any damaged fencing can be repaired. It can be put in place with a staple gun and trees or wooden fence posts. Place this kit in a secure area before the storm hits.
5. FIRE PREVENTION – Turn off circuit breakers to the barn before leaving. A power surge could cause sparks and fire. Install lightening rods if possible to reduce the risk of fire in the event of a lightening strike. Do not leave anything plugged in and remove electrical devices from aisles and off the floor (away from possible flood waters)
6. ID – Keep ID on your horses – Id on halters and microchips are great but if that has not been done you can use clippers to clip your phone number onto horses back or use spray paint to do the same thing. You can even braid luggage tags with contact info into horses mane.
7. HALTERS – Keep halters on horses (if you don’t usually) and have lead ropes at the ready
8. ESCAPE – Have an evacuation plan ready and keep a full tank of gas in your vehicle.
9. ALERT OTHERS – Make a sign (approx 4′x8′) using bright spray paint on a sheet of wood or a king size flat sheet write on one side “HAVE ANIMALS, NEED HELP.” On the other side of paint, “HAVE ANIMALS, AM OK FOR NOW.” Store the signs in a safe place until after the storm.
10. PROTECT YOURSELF – You cannot help anyone if you are injured so protect your own health and safety first. Your home is probably the safest place for you during a hurricane or storm. Don’t plan on sleeping in the barn. You run the risk of injury or being trampled if the horses panic. Stay Safe so that you can help when the time is right.
In the case of a mandatory evacuation DO NOT STAY BEHIND. And remember that animals may have a better chance in a field than in a barn in some storm scenarios so do your research depending on your geography and the condition of your barn’s structure as well as local government emergency preparedness plans.
A storm doesn’t have to be hurricane force to have devastating results and there’s no time like the present to share these tips with you. There are two documents that I feel really do a good job of summing up a storm preparation plan:
In 1996, The University of Florida’s Joe Walters published a document about Hurricane preparedness. It is a document that I keep laminated as a valuable reference tool.
To view this article click here http://brevard.ifas.ufl.edu/hot_topics/PDF/Hurricane_Preparedness_f…
The Broward County Large Animal Disaster Committee has a video tape available on strengthening your barn and developing a hurricane plan for your horse. If you would like to receive a copy, contact Mary Peters, Extension Agent, at email@example.com, or call her at 954-370-3725 ext. 224. The tape is free for Broward County residents, and available for a minimal cost to those in other counties.
By: Mary Peters
This plan is from Mississippi, USA but has great advise for before, during and after a storm:
Emergency Preparedness Plan for Horse Owners
In the year that Hurricane Charlie hit Florida, horses were found roaming the highway in West Palm Beach because the fences and barns had been destroyed by the storm, or by falling trees. That spray painted phone number would have been a great help in getting those horses home again quickly.
Hopefully none of us will have to experience a category 4 or 5 hurricane but severe thunderstorms, gale force winds and tornados can affect anyone and everyone, everywhere. So be prepared and Be Safe!
Sarah Pratt is the President and co-founder of www.horsejobs.ca – Canada’s first employment website dedicated to the equine industry. Sarah is an active board member of the Ontario Equestrian Federation and has spoken as a subject matter expert at various events and educational facilities such as the University of Guelph, University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus and REACH Huron. Sarah can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org