Fire? Flood? Hurricane? Blizzard?
Plenty of emergencies might require a fast evacuation of your horses. Are you ready? Do you have a plan?
GET READY: assemble your supplies
The website of Ready.gov (part of Homeland Security) includes useful checklists for emergency kits for humans and animals.
For each horse, be sure to include:
- Food (3-7 day supply or more)
- Water (3-7 day supply)
- Buckets (for food and water)
- Halters and lead ropes
- Blankets or sheets
- Extra bedding
- Portable corral or fencing if you have it
GET SET: Make a plan
FEMA's Emergency Planning pages include excellent suggestions for horse owners. These include:
- Pack as much water as possible, ideally 3-7 days worth for each animal. Remember that flood water can be contaminated: if you are drinking bottled water during an emergency, your horses will need a safe supply also.
- Keep a photo of yourself with your horse(s) in a place that disaster cannot reach. Post the photo on Instagram or Facebook to store it. Photos can prove ownership if you are separated from your pet(s).
- Make copies of equine medical/vaccine records and keep them in a waterproof container.
- Develop a buddy system with neighbors. Your neighbors might be able to care for them or assist with evacuation if you cannot reach your horses in an emergency. You may be able to help your neighbors' animals if they cannot get home.
- Tell somebody your plan. Phone service and internet may be disrupted for several days, so notify people in advance if possible.
- Make a plan for several evacuation options. Most public shelters will not have facilities for large animals. Consider family or friends outside your immediate area willing to house you and your critters in times of crisis. Other options can include veterinary hospitals or fairgrounds outside the emergency zone.
- Talk to your vet about emergency planning. Get the name of veterinarians in other communities where you might shelter. Include this information in the medical records container.
- “Tag” your animals. In addition to her visible tattoo, my mare wears a halter tag engraved with her name and my cell phone number. A microchip is another good option. In a pinch, you can write your cell phone number on a horse’s body using a large livestock grease marker or even a Sharpie.
- Keep vehicle(s) prepped and ready to go. Make sure fuel and oil are topped up, tires are inflated, and the vehicle is parked conveniently for a quick exit.
- Do not wait until you can smell smoke to teach your horse to lead and load! In an emergency, time is vital, and refusal to load may mean getting left behind.
GO! Leave Now!
When the alarm sounds, move quickly. Do not endanger others with delay.
Download the FEMA app to receive alerts from the National Weather Service, locate open shelters, and upload emergency photos to aid first responders.
- Load supplies first (better yet: keep supplies in the evacuation vehicles)
- Load animal(s) quickly
- Load people
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