(HURRICANE IRENE/HORSE SAFETY) — While caring for cats and dogs during Hurricane Irene seems manageable, more elaborate preparations must be made in order to ensure the safety of horses. Due to their sizes, horses cannot be simply evacuated; however, they also cannot stay put with the storm approaching. Read on to learn the Humane Society’s advice on how to keep your horse safe during the hurricane watch and other emergencies. — Global Animal
The Humane Society of the United States
Why you need to be prepared
Disaster preparedness is important for all animals, but it takes extra consideration for horses because of their size and their transportation needs. During an emergency, you’ll have limited time to evacuate your animals. With an effective emergency plan, you’re more likely to be able to move your horses to safety. If not, or you wait until the last minute to evacuate, emergency management officials may tell you that you must leave your horses behind. Once you leave your property, you have no way of knowing how long you will be kept out of the area. Your horses could be unattended for days without care, food, or water.
To help avoid this situation, we have prepared information and suggestions to help you plan for emergencies.
Horse evacuation tips
There may be times when taking your horses with you is impossible during an emergency. So you must consider different types of disasters and whether your horses would be better off in a barn or loose in a field. Your local humane organization, agricultural extension agent, or local emergency management agency may be able to provide you with information about your community’s disaster response plans.
- Make arrangements in advance to have your horse trailered in case of an emergency. If you do not have your own trailer or do not have enough trailer space for all of your horses, be sure you have several people on standby to help evacuate your horses.
- Know where you can take your horses in an emergency evacuation. Make arrangements with a friend or another horse owner to stable your horses if needed. Contact your local animal care and control agency, agricultural extension agent, or local emergency management authorities for information about shelters in your area.
- Inform friends and neighbors of your evacuation plans. Post detailed instructions in several places—including the barn office or tack room, the horse trailer, and barn entrances—to ensure they are accessible to emergency workers in case you are not able to evacuate your horses yourself.
- Place your horses’ Coggins tests, veterinary papers, identification photographs, 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 that can be quickly reached.
- Keep halters ready for your horses. Each halter should include the following information: the horse’s name, your name, your telephone number, and another emergency telephone number where someone can be reached.
- Prepare a basic first aid kit that is portable and easily accessible.
- Be sure to have on hand a supply of water, hay, feed, and medications for several days for each horse you are evacuating.
- It is important that your horses are comfortable being loaded onto a trailer. If your horses are unaccustomed to being loaded onto a trailer, practice the procedure so they become used to it.
Barn fires: The leading disaster risk for horses
Preventing barn fires and being prepared in the event of a fire can mean the difference between life and death for your horses. Knowledge of the danger of fires and how to deal with them are essential, and vigilance is key to prevention.