10 Tips for Disaster Preparedness

Before tornado, hurricane and wildfire seasons get to rockin’, check out these disaster preparedness tips for horse owners.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Make sure you are prepared in case of an emergency with these 10 tips. Journal photo.

No one is immune to disaster. So whether it’s a tornado, blizzard, hurricane, barn fire, flooding, earthquake, wildfires or what have you, it never hurts to be prepared. That proves especially true when you have horses counting on you to manage their well-being. 
Now, you’d be Superwoman (or Superman) if you could account for every blow you might be dealt. But there are several things that you as a horse owner to prepare for disaster. 

Get the lowdown on disaster preparedness for horse owners with these 10 tips.

  1. Stay up to date on vaccinations. Key vaccinations your horse should always be current on are tetanus toxoid, West Nile virus and eastern and western equine encephalitis vaccinations.  
  2. Create a binder or folder with all of your horse’s important documents. Store the binder in an easy-to-grab place, and stock it with current Coggin’s tests, a photo of each horse highlighting obvious identifying marks as proof of ownership, tattoo or microchip number, plus a copy of the horse’s registration papers.  
  3. Make sure every horse loads easily into a trailer. Also, horses should be easily loadable by strangers. To practice loading, try sending the horse in a circle directly behind the trailer. When he wants to stop and sniff the trailer, let him and it will encourage the horse to load. When his attention fades, send him calmly around in a circle again until he is interested in loading.  
  4. Have a properly fitted halter and lead rope on hand for each horse. Nylon halters and lead ropes should be avoided as they will burn easily near a fire. Have the horse’s names on the halters, as well as your name and phone number. Cattle ear tags printed with indelible ink or luggage tags with your contact information can be attached to the horse’s halter or collar.  
  5. Mark your horse with identification in multiple places. Aside from attaching your contact info to the halter, you can also use spray paint or livestock-marking crayons to mark a phone number directly on the horse or permanent markers to write on hooves. Microchipping and tattooing are other great ideas.  
  6. Double-check that your trailer is hitched and your truck is full of gas. Always have an evacuation route plotted and know where you will take your horses. When evacuation is eminent, point your vehicle in the direction of your escape route and leave the keys in the ignition. And have an alternate evacuation route in mind in case the primary route is not available. 
  7. Store an emergency kit in an easily accessible location and don’t use it for anything but emergencies. To build an emergency kit, start with a light-weight plastic barrel (with a lid) or a large tack box that can be easily tossed into the back of a vehicle. Pack bandages (leg wraps and quilts), thermometer, antiseptics, scissors/knife, topical antibiotic ointments, tranquilizers, pain relievers (phenylbutazone or Banamine), radio and flashlight and extra batteries, extra halters and lead ropes, clean towels, and fly spray.  
  8. Stash emergency supplies and tools in protected, separate locations around your property. Each stash should include: a chain saw and fuel, hammer and nails, fence repair materials, wire cutters, tool box, pry bar, fire extinguisher and duct tape.  
  9. Leave your horses turned out in non-evacuating emergencies. This is the best option during severe storms or tornados, so leave your horses out away from the barn or stable, preferably in a field with few trees and no power lines. This decreases the chance of them being injured by a falling tree or trapped in a collapsing barn, although it’s possible they may encounter flying debris or lighting strikes. 
  10. Stockpile a minimum of 72 hours of feed and hay (seven days is best). If a storm hits, it is very possible that roads will be closed because of downed power lines and trees, limiting access to feed stores. Cover hay with waterproof tarps and place it on pallets. Keep grain in water-tight containers.