Disaster Preparedness Guidelines For Horse Owners:
If you are a horse owner, you need to have an emergency preparedness plan for the horses in the event of a disaster such as an earthquake, floods or fire. While many people are making plans and disaster kits for themselves and their families, they are not necessarily thinking about their horses. It is important to ensure you not only have an evacuation plan for your horses but also have a disaster kit for them as well.
You need to know what types of disasters my happen in your area and have a plan and procedure in place for each different type of disaster. Find a place on your property where the horses could be confined safely in case of disaster and ensure there would be water available to them in the event the automatic water feeders fail. You should make sure all horses have a permanent identity on them such as a brand, microchip or tattoo and ensure you have photos (all four sides) of each horse in case you need to identify them after a disaster. Each horse should have their medical records and vaccinations up-to-date. If they are on medications, make sure this is documented and how often they require it, the dose and the name of the vet who prescribed the medication in case someone else takes care of your horse in a disaster. Make a tag that can be attached to the horses halter with your name and phone numbers as well as the horse’s name. Make a list of shelters with directions and contact information. Shelters are often found at fair grounds, arenas and privately owned ranches. You can contact a local HEET (Horse Emergency Evacuation Team) for additional shelter locations. When contacting potential shelter locations, ask if you need to bring hay & grain for the horses. If you are responsable for the food for each horse, ensure you include that in your emergency plan.
Ensure you make up an emergency kit for your horses. This should include a plastic barrel that has a lid, a water bucket and leg wraps for the horses. You should also have fire resistant leads and halters for each horse and ensure you have first aid items available for each horse. Keep in the emergency kit a portable radio with batteries, a flashlight, knife, wire cutters, blankets, tarpaulins and bleach. These items can be helpful in a disaster for both yourself and the horses. You should also have enough water, hay and grain for each horse to last several days.
During A Disaster
Make sure you follow your plan and stay calm during the disaster. Listen to the radio for emergency bulletins, shelter updates or if there are any actions you can take to protect yourself and your animals further. If you need to evacuate your home, make sure you bring your horses information with you such as their health records and immunization records and your emergency kit, food and water for the horses. If you can, call the place where you want to take your horses for shelter to ensure they are still available to take the horses. If for some reason you have to leave your horses behind, ensure that where you leave them is appropriate for the type of disaster that is occurring, such as high ground during a flood. Ensure there is plenty of water available and do not rely on watering systems that require power to work. Leave plenty of food for the horses, in the event you are unable to return to your property immediately after the disaster.
After The Disaster
Ensure fences are still secure. If not, then keep the horses in stables until these can be repaired. You must remember that after a disaster, the land and scents may be quite different and may confuse the horses. If you find horses on your property that don’t belong to you, either find their owners or call the local humane society. If you have lost a horse, call the humane society or similar agency and be prepared to show identification that the horses belong to you.