Disaster preparation for Horse owners
As Hurricane season is upon us here in Florida it is past time to seriously address the task of preparation. Efforts taken today can save a great deal of anxiety and heartache in the future. Unfortunately, many of us are procrastinators by nature and wait until the news reports of the approaching storm prod us into some form of action. Every year when this happens you find yourself frantically wandering the isles of your local store searching empty shelves for bottled water and batteries with several hundred of your closest friends and neighbors. This doesn’t need to happen. With just a little time and effort now you will find yourself much more prepared and not just another aimless zombie in the golden hoard. Even if you are like me and lack the “organizational gene” you will find that following some simple guidelines can help get you ready for the eventual day when, as they say…. the manure hits the oscillating rotator. By breaking things down into simple check lists you can start getting the things you need and the things you need to get done checked off. You probably have many of these items and just need to get them together and inventoried.
Here are the disaster preparedness check lists we have for our clients. Some things may apply to your area and others will not and need to be adjusted to your geographical threats. The basics are the same regardless if the threat is a hurricane, wildfire, earthquake or electrical grid failure. I have broken these down into 1. Horses, 2. Farm, 3. Home, and tried to cover the important items and tasks you will need to do. In the need to evacuate many of these things will need to be organized into appropriate “go bags” so duplication of documents and some supplies may be needed.
Vaccinations- All horses should be vaccinated with Tetanus toxoid yearly. Mosquitoes increase significantly after the hurricane and transmit the Encephalitis viruses; therefore vaccination with Eastern&Western Encephalitis as well as West Nile Virus should be boostered prior to storm season.
Coggins test- Make sure you have a current negative Coggins test and that it doesn’t expire during hurricane season. These are required for interstate transport so have several certified copies for (truck, trailer and important papers folder)
Health Certificate- these are required for transport as well. You can obtain a six month event permit which will allow movement into adjoining states. (Have extra certified copies)
Identification- Make sure your horse has a microchip ID and register the number. Name tags on the halter “may” stay on but usually don’t and won’t help if your horse is stolen or “adopted” after the storm. Identification of horses that have died is extremely difficult after days in storm conditions as they all look the same. Evidence from work done in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina showed that Microchip ID allowed positive identification in >90% of cases. During Hurricane Andrew in Florida it was almost the exact opposite since microchip ID wasn’t required in Florida and was not readily available then. Most of the dead horses were never identified.
Evacuation- Decide early if you are going to evacuate and have a destination prearranged. Contact family members or camp grounds that allow horses. Map out your evacuation route and all alternate roads to get there. Have several maps in each vehicle. Leave at least 48 hours before the storm gets close as roads and bridges will be clogged with traffic and higher winds as the storm approaches may close some bridges to trailer traffic leaving you stranded.
Important documents- keep copies of health records, Coggins test, health certificate, ID numbers and photos in a Ziploc bag. Also, store copies on a portable flash drive to be printed later if needed.
If you are not evacuating then it probably safer to turn your horses out in a large open pasture that has VERY few trees, if any. Most injuries occur from collapsed barns and flying debris. Just think about the fact that your barn was probably built to take advantage of the prevailing breeze to keep it cool and most likely done by the lowest bidder. That’s a bad combo with a CAT 3-4 Hurricane.
FARM: (Walk your property, visual inspection.)
Check and repair all fences. Remove any barbed wire.
Clear trees and dead limbs (clear all red maple, it only takes a few wilted leaves to induce renal failure in the horse….and they will eat them).
Remove all debris. This becomes flying projectiles
Store all jumps, tables and chairs in a barn stall
Get “tie-downs” for trailers, park them in a large open paddock away from trees and power lines. Park trucks there as well. Make sure they are fully fueled.
Store feed- 7 day supply stored in water proof containers ( 1lb /100lbs body weight x 7 days per horse)
Store hay in barn under waterproof tarp and off the ground on pallets
Water supply- 15-20 gal/horse/day. You can fill up troughs, boats, swimming pools ect. Bleach can be used to purify contaminated water ( 8 drops /gal) but horses may not drink it if treated. A hand “pitcher pump” for your well is also valuable with power outages. Dehydration and renal failure is a common source of death in horses after hurricanes.
Generator- 4hp (4000-5000 watts) with gas to last 7 days. This can be done with 4x5 gallon cans using the generator intermittently. Tri fuel options on generators are a great addition.
Extension cords- 4 long 100ft
-Hammers and nails( you need a large and varied supply)
- fencing materials-field fence, posts and staples
-chainsaw, spare chain, gas and 2 cycle oil
-ropes and tow cable
-wire cutters and long handle pry bar (can still get to supplies if barn collapses)
- roll of black plastic sheeting and staple gun to cover broken windows and roof leaks
- flood light-work light with car adapter (1 million candle power), head lamps for hands free work
-waders or snake boots
Extra halters and ropes- stored in sealed plastic bins
-Bandage material(sheet cotton,gauze,telfa pads,vet wrap,duct tape
-wound medication (betadine scrub,Nolvasan ointment,triple antibiotic ointment)
-anti-inflammatory meds (Banamine,Phenylbutazone)
-Sedatives (acepromazine, Xylazine)
-Antibiotics (Trimethoprim sulfa tablets, Procaine penicillin)
-syringes and needles
-scissors and knife
Ask your veterinarian for help and dosages on medications that you need, we are there to help and educate.
-water supply, 1 gal/person/day. A “water bob” ($20) can be placed in the bathtub and once filled up holds 100 gallons of water and comes with its own hand pump.
-Food storage, plan on at least 2-3 weeks supply. It could be longer depending upon the level of disruption. The objective is to maintain independence and not be dependent upon rescue or food supplied at refugee centers. Trust me; historically it never works out well for the refugees. Most canned foods are good for at least 2 years. Canned dried storage foods can be good for up to 30 years as are freeze dried foods. These can be set aside in a closet or under a bed in a guest room for a time when needed. Choose foods that you like and fit into your regular diet. You should plan for several meals a day as you do now and shop accordingly. Many online sites and the LDS church provide sources for long term storage food.
-Generator, some form of electricity will greatly help when the lights go out. This will allow you to maintain refrigeration, cooking, lights and connection with the outside world. Gas to keep it running. Be aware of exhaust and fire dangers and keep it well ventilated.
-Solar lights, these outdoor LED lights can be brought indoors at night and provide light for about 6 hours. They are bright enough to use for reading and are much safer than candles and lamps. Once charged the batteries can be disconnected until needed.
-Gas grill, for cooking and boiling water. Keep at least one extra bottle of propane on hand as the grill will get a lot of use.
-Medical supplies, bandage materials, antibiotic ointment, anti diarrheal meds, anti inflammatory meds(advil,Tylenol) , any prescription medications you are currently on. Injuries such as burns and cuts associated with farm accidents should be your focus.
-A small cheap window unit air conditioner, keep stored in the box in a closet. This will provide an unbelievable relief in the hot humid post hurricane power outage (this is why you need a generator). We kept this in our bedroom and slept like a baby with our kids and all our nieces and nephews sleeping on the floor because we had A/C.
-Cash, with power disruptions the banks and ATMs will be non-functional. Having cash on hand will enable you to at least be more flexible.
-Firearms, while it may seem unnecessary to some, you may want to rethink this position. Police protection, phone service and street lights will all be disrupted leaving those in our society that thrive on those conditions to be emboldened. The sound of a generator and lights can send them a signal that you have “stuff”. While much has been written on which guns are best, I tend to think that the best gun is the one you have and are comfortable using. The simplicity of a shotgun with appropriate sized shot is a nice deterrent.
I’m sure this could be expanded many fold but keeping it simple is a great way for many to get started. Going over the list every year and adding to it to fit your needs is another way to keep the process of preparation moving forward. Remember to keep some extra supplies for charity as many of your neighbors may not be as well prepared or could be more severely affected by storm damage. Be prepared to help them.
The storm is coming; it’s time to get ready.