Horses and livestock require special considerations when planning for the event of a disaster. Fortunately, there are a number of things large animal owners can do to prepare in the case of an emergency or evacuation. Do no leave your animals behind. A situation that isn’t safe for you won’t be safe for your animal companions. Evacuate immediately and remember once you have evacuated you may not be able to return.
- Identification: Keep halters with an identification tag fastened to them. Remember to avoid the use of nylon halter and lead ropes since it is highly flammable. Make sure halters and lead ropes are easily accessible on each stall. On each halter include the following information: horse’s name, your name, telephone number, email, and another emergency telephone number(s) where someone can be reached.
- Fun fact: Did you know horses can be microchipped just like cats and dogs? Most equine veterinarians can perform this service for a small fee. At the time of evacuation, consider additional temporary identification such as a leg band or use of a livestock pen to write on their hooves. Keep this information with your important papers.
- Medical Records: Place your animals’ veterinary papers and vital information – such as medical history, allergies, and emergency telephone numbers (veterinarian, family members, etc.) – in a watertight envelope. Store the envelope with your other important papers in a safe place. Keep copies of all documentation on your phone for easy access.
- Supplies: Prepare a basic first aid kit that is portable and easily accessible. Be sure to include enough water (12 to 20 gallons per day per horse), hay, feed, and medications for several days for each horse.
2. If You Evacuate - Make a Plan
Transportation: Make arrangements in advance to have your horse trailered in the event of an emergency. If you don’t have your own trailer or don’t have enough room in your trailer for horses, be sure you have several people on standby to help evacuate your horses.
- Pro tip: Do not store your hay in your trailers. Make sure your trailer is empty and ready to go in the event of an emergency. Conduct regular inspections of your trailers to ensure it is evacuation ready at all times.
- Buddy System: Make a backup plan with neighbors, friends, or relatives in case an emergency happens while you are not home. When possible, make arrangements with a friend or another horse owner to stable your horses well beyond the region at risk. Contact your local animal care and control agency, agricultural extension agent, or local emergency management authorities for information about shelters in your area.
- Tips: Always evacuate your animals early if you can. Do not wait until you are ordered to evacuate. Be sure to keep entrances and exits clear of debris to ensure your trailers have a safe and easy passage.
3. If You Cannot Evacuate
- Have a Backup Plan: Create a backup plan in case it’s impossible to take your large animals with you when you evacuate. Consider different types of disasters and whether your animals would be better off in a barn or loose in a field. Your local emergency management agency may be able to provide you with information about your community’s disaster response plans. Post detailed instructions in several places – including the barn office or tack room, the horse trailer, and barn entrances – ensuring emergency workers can see them in case you are not able to evacuate your horses yourself.
4. Stay Connected - Be Ready
- Be Ready: Know ahead of time what type of emergencies or natural disasters your area is prone to and plan accordingly. Get to know the emergency plans that have been established in your state and local government beforehand.
- Stay Informed: Be ready to adapt to new information that may affect your circumstances. Listen to the radio and take every effort to follow instructions provided by the authorities and disaster relief workers.
- Follow all instructions provided by the authorities and disaster relief workers. If you are a resident of Ventura County, sign up for VC Alerts to have alerts sent to your phone and email when a disaster strikes.