Disaster Preparedness for the Horse Owner

by Matt

With Hurricane Florence hitting North and South Carolinas this week, we’ve all seen firsthand how important it is for horse owners to have a disaster preparedness plan in place. Have you designed an evacuation plan yet? The tips below can help you to create, improve, and refine your plans so that you’re well prepared just in case disaster ever strikes your area.

Create a Detailed Evacuation Plan

If you had to leave your farm with only a few hours’ notice, what would you do? Where would you go? Could you transport all of your horses and animals off of your property, or would you need help? If so, who would you call? Are you familiar with the common evacuation routes?

These are the kinds of details that you need to consider when creating an evacuation plan. Try to think of every single detail that might come into play, so you can solve potential problems now.

Figure Out Transportation

Do you have trailers large enough to load up all of your animals? What about enough vehicles to pull those trailers, and people to drive those vehicles? If you’ll rely on someone else for transportation, remember that evacuations are chaotic, and other horse owners may be busy with their own horses. Come up with a few options for transportation so that if some don’t work out, you still have other choices.

Social media often helps to connect transporters with horse owners in emergencies, so familiarize yourself with local social media pages and groups that you can turn to if needed. You may also have local organizations who can assist with locating transportation in an emergency.

While you’re at it, practice loading with all of your horses on a regular basis. The last thing you want to deal with in an emergency is a horse who won’t load. Try to work with both ramp and step up trailers, since you never know what type of trailer your horse may need to load into during an evacuation. If you’ll be relying on your own rig for transportation, then keep your truck and trailer well-maintained and ready to go, just in case.

Get Your Records in Order

Now is also the time to get your vet records in order. While a Coggins requirement is sometimes waived for out-of-state transportation during an evacuation, the stable that you’re heading to may still require a clean Coggins, leaving you in a tough spot if you don’t have one for all of your horses.

Put a copy of each horse’s vaccination records and Coggins in a waterproof envelope and store it in a place where it’s easy to access. If you have a first-aid kit in your trailer, this is an ideal place to keep this information.

Have a Plan A, B, and C

You may think that your Plan A is foolproof, but still create a backup plan, and a secondary backup plan just in case. When disasters hit, things have a way of going wrong, and you may find yourself facing challenges that you’d never imagined. Better to come up with a number of potential plans now, than have to do it on the spot when you’re in a hurry and your Plan A falls through.

Planning an emergency evacuation isn’t a pleasant thought, and hopefully you’ll never have to put your plans to use. If you do, though, having a plan in place can help to keep you, your horses, and your animals safe.

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