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Disasters including floods, fires, hazardous material spills, tornados and powerful storms, can strike at anytime, anywhere,  If you think you will never have to evacuate unless you live in a flood plain, near an earthquake fault line or in a coastal area, you may be tragically mistaken. It is imperative that you make preparations to evacuate your family, pets, horses, or livestock in any situation. In the event of a disaster, proper preparation will pay off with the safety of your family and animals.  

The following three guides and recommendations come from The Humane Society of the United States.

Disaster Preparedness Tips For:

 

 

Disaster Preparedness:  Pets

If You Evacuate, Take Your Pets

The single most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to take them with you when you evacuate. Animals left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Animals left inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows. Animals turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents. Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence.

  • If you leave, even if you think you may be gone only for a few hours, take your animals. Once you leave, you have no way of knowing how long you'll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able to go back for your pets.

  • Leave early—don't wait for a mandatory evacuation order. An unnecessary trip is far better than waiting too long to leave safely with your pets. If you wait to be evacuated by emergency officials, you may be told to leave your pets behind.

Don't Forget ID

Your pets should be wearing up-to-date identification at all times. It's a good idea to include the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area—if your pet is lost, you'll want to provide a number on the tag that will be answered even if you're out of your home.

Find a Safe Place Ahead of Time

Because evacuation shelters generally don't accept pets (except for service animals), you must plan ahead to ensure that your family and pets will have a safe place to stay. Don't wait until disaster strikes to do your research.

  • Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size, and species. Ask if "no pet" policies would be waived in an emergency. Make a list of pet-friendly places and keep it handy. Call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.

  • Check with friends, relatives, or others outside your immediate area. Ask if they would be able to shelter you and your animals or just your animals, if necessary. If you have more than one pet, you may have to be prepared to house them separately.

  • Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in emergencies; include 24-hour telephone numbers.

  • Ask your local animal shelter if it provides foster care or shelter for pets in an emergency. This should be your last resort, as shelters have limited resources and are likely to be stretched to their limits during an emergency.

If You Don't Evacuate

If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together.

  • Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.

  • Have any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies.

As the Disaster Approaches

Don't wait until the last minute to get ready. Warnings of tornados or other disasters may be issued hours, or even days, in advance.

  • Call to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.

  • Bring pets into the house and confine them so you can leave with them quickly if necessary. Make sure each pet and pet carrier has up-to-date identification and contact information. Include information about your temporary shelter location.

Make sure your disaster supplies are ready to go, including your pet disaster kit.

In Case You're Not Home

An evacuation order may come, or a disaster may strike, when you're at work or out of the house.

  • Make arrangements well in advance for a trusted neighbor to take your pets and meet you at a specified location. Be sure the person is comfortable with your pets, knows where your animals are likely to be, knows where your disaster supplies are kept, and has a key to your home.

If you use a pet-sitting service, it may be able to help, but discuss the possibility well in advance.

 

Everyday Occurrences
  • The roads are icy and traffic is a mess. The forecast is for another inch of ice. You decide to stay with a friend near the office or near your school, instead of risking the drive all the way home. Who will check on your cat and give her supper?

  • You and your spouse are running into the grocery store for a couple of things. When you come out, you see fire trucks rushing toward your neighborhood. A propane truck has overturned on the street near your subdivision and you are not allowed to go home. A police officer tells you that the electricity has been shut off. How can you make sure your birds stay warm?

  • Your mother-in-law has had a heart attack and you are going to meet your wife at the hospital. It may be a long night. Who will give your dog his medicine?

These are everyday occurrences all around the country and could well happen to you at any time. Prepare yourself for these events and if a large disaster should ever hit, you will already be ready and know what to do.

Are You Prepared?

The Humane Society of the United States recommends the following actions to make sure that your pets are taken care of when everyday events like these prevent you from taking care of your pets.

  • Find a trusted neighbor and give them a key to your house or barn. Make sure that this person is comfortable and familiar with your pets.

  • Make sure the neighbor knows your pets' whereabouts and habits, so they will not have to waste precious time trying to find or catch them.

  • Create a simple pet emergency/disaster kit and place it in a prominent place where your neighbor can find it.

  • If the emergency involves evacuation, make sure the neighbor would be willing to take your pets and has access to the appropriate carriers and leashes. Plan to meet at a prearranged location.

  • If you use a pet sitting service, they may be available to help, but discuss the possibility well in advance.

Do You Know of a Pet Who Might Be Stranded?

If you know a friend or neighbor who has pets, and you think this person may be a victim of an accident or a disaster—or if you simply have not seen that person caring for their pets as they normally do—we urge you to take action to make sure that those pets are being cared for. Here's how:

  • Find out if someone is already taking care of the pets. Check with other neighbors and friends or a rental manager.

  • If you think that pets are not being cared for, notify your local animal control agency or animal shelter. Do not attempt to break into the home.

Create a Community That's Safe for Pets in Emergencies

If you live in an apartment building or townhouse community, help your landlord, property manager, or community association keep track of the resident pets. Collect this information and keep it in a place where police, rescue, and animal control responders have access to it:

  • Information about the pet owners and an alternate pet caregiver: name, unit or address, telephone numbers (day, evening, and mobile).

  • Information about the pets: name, type, breed, coloring, temperament, and favorite places.

  • Information about the pets' food, medications, vaccinations, and veterinary contact information.

  • Location of pet emergency kit and other needed equipment (carriers, etc.).

  • Signed permission for entry to the residence for the purpose of rescuing pets in an emergency.

  • Location of an emergency key for entry to the residence.

After the Storm

Planning and preparation will help you weather the disaster, but your home may be a very different place afterward, whether you have taken shelter at home or elsewhere.

  • Don't allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet will probably be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations.

  • For a few days, keep dogs on leashes and keep cats in carriers inside the house. If your house is damaged, they could escape and become lost.

  • Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible, and be ready for behavioral problems that may result from the stress of the situation. If behavioral problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.

Evacuation Planning:

You may not be in a flood zone or have to flee wildfire, but even a hazardous material incident on a nearby street could force you to evacuate. It pays to be prepared!

Disaster Supply Checklist for Pets

Every member of your family should know what he or she needs to take when you evacuate. You also need to prepare supplies for your pet. Stock up on nonperishables well ahead of time, add perishable items at the last minute, and have everything ready to go at a moment's notice. Keep everything accessible, stored in sturdy containers (duffel bags, covered trash containers, etc.) that can be carried easily.

In your disaster kit, you should include:

     

  • Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a first aid kit. A pet first aid book is also good to include.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets can't escape. Carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down. Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time while you have taken shelter away from home. Be sure to have a secure cage with no loose objects inside it to accommodate smaller pets. These may require blankets or towels for bedding and warmth, and other special items.

  • Current photos and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated and to prove that they are yours.

  • Food and water for at least three days for each pet, bowls, cat litter and litter box, and a manual can opener.

  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.

  • Pet beds and toys, if you can easily take them, to reduce stress.

Other useful items include newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items, and household bleach.

Other Evacuation Tips

  • All mobile home residents should evacuate at the first sign of a disaster.

  • Evacuate to the safest location you can that's as close as possible to home. Long-distance evacuation can be a problem when highways are crowded.

     

Disaster Preparedness:  Horses
Why Horse Owners 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. If you think disasters happen only if you live in a flood plain, near an earthquake fault line or in a coastal area, you may be tragically mistaken. Disasters can happen anywhere and can take many different forms, from barn fires to hazardous materials spills to propane line explosions, and train derailments—all of which may necessitate evacuation. It is imperative that you are prepared to move your horses to a safe area.

During an emergency, the time you have to evacuate your horses will be limited. With an effective emergency plan, you may have enough time to move your horses to safety. If you are unprepared or wait until the last minute to evacuate, you could be told by emergency management officials 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. If left behind, 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.

Barn Fires: The Leading Disaster for Horse Owners

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 of the greatest importance and should be an ongoing concern to horse owners.

Fire Prevention Is Key

  • Prohibit smoking in or around the barn. A discarded cigarette can ignite dry bedding or hay in seconds.

  • Avoid parking tractors and vehicles in or near the barn. Engine heat and backfires can spark a flame.

  • Also store other machinery and flammable materials outside the barn.

  • Inspect electrical systems regularly and immediately correct any problems. Rodents can chew on electrical wiring and cause damage that quickly becomes a fire hazard.

  • Keep appliances to a minimum in the barn. Use stall fans, space heaters, and radios only when someone is in the barn.

  • Be sure hay is dry before storing it. Hay that is too moist may spontaneously combust. Store hay outside the barn in a dry, covered area when possible.

Be Prepared for a Barn Fire: It Can Save Your Horse's Life

  • Keep aisles, stall doors, and barn doors free of debris and equipment.

  • Mount fire extinguishers around the stable, especially at all entrances.

  • Have a planned evacuation route for every stall in the barn.

  • Familiarize employees and horse handlers with your evacuation plans.

  • Post emergency telephone numbers at each telephone and at each entrance. Emergency telephone numbers should include those of the barn manager, veterinarian, emergency response, and other qualified horse handlers.

  • Also keep your barn's street address clearly posted to relay to the 911 operator or your community's emergency services.

  • Be sure your address and the entrance to your property are clearly visible from the main road.

  • Consider installing smoke alarms and heat detectors throughout the barn. New heat sensors can detect rapidly changing temperatures in your barn. The heat sensors should be hooked up to sirens that will quickly alert you and your neighbors to a possible barn fire.

  • Host an open house for emergency services personnel in your area to familiarize them with the layout of your property. Provide them with tips on horse handling or present a mini-seminar with hands-on training for horse handling.

  • Familiarize your horses with emergency procedures and common activities they would encounter during a disaster. Try to desensitize them to flashlights and flashing lights.
In the Event of a Barn Fire
  • Immediately call 911 or your local emergency services.

  • Do not enter the barn if it is already engulfed in flames.

  • If it is safe for you to enter the barn, evacuate horses one at a time starting with the most accessible horses. Be sure to put a halter and lead rope on each horse when you open the stall door. Be aware that horses tend to run back into burning barns out of fear and confusion.

  • Blindfold horses only if absolutely necessary. Many horses will balk at a blindfold, making evacuation more difficult and time consuming.

  • Move your horses to paddocks close enough to reach quickly but far enough from the barn that the horses will not be affected by the fire and smoke. Never let horses loose in an area where they are able to return to the barn.

  • After the fire, be sure to have all your horses checked by a veterinarian. Smoke inhalation can cause serious lung damage and respiratory complications. Horses are prone to stress and may experience colic after a fire.

Horse Evacuation Tips

  • 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.

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.

 

Disaster Preparedness:  Livestock
Why Livestock Owners Need to Be Prepared

Disaster preparedness is important for all animals, but it is particularly important for livestock because of the animals' size and their shelter and transportation needs. If you think that disasters happen only if you live in a flood plain, near an earthquake fault line or in a coastal area, you may be tragically mistaken. Disasters can happen anywhere and can take many different forms, from barn fires to hazardous materials spills to propane line explosions, and train derailments—all of which may necessitate evacuation. It is imperative that you be prepared to protect your livestock, whether by evacuating or by sheltering in place.

Take Precautions

  • Make a disaster plan to protect your property, your facilities, and your animals. Create a list of emergency telephone numbers, including those of your employees, neighbors, veterinarian, state veterinarian, poison control, local animal shelter, animal care and control, county extension service, local agricultural schools, trailering resources, and local volunteers.

  • Include a contact person outside the disaster area. Make sure all this information is written down and that everyone has a copy.

  • Make sure every animal has durable and visible identification.

  • Ensure that poultry have access to high areas in which to perch, if they are in a flood-prone area, as well as to food and clean water.

  • Reinforce your house, barn, and outbuildings with hurricane straps and other measures. Perform regular safety checks on all utilities, buildings, and facilities on your farm.

  • Use only native and deep-rooted plants and trees in landscaping (non-native plants are less durable and hardy in your climate and may become dislodged by high winds or broken by ice and snow).

  • Remove all barbed wire, and consider rerouting permanent fencing so that animals may move to high ground in a flood and to low-lying areas during high winds.

  • Install a hand pump and obtain enough large containers to water your animals for at least a week (municipal water supplies and wells are often contaminated during a disaster).

  • Identify alternate water and power sources. A generator with a safely stored supply of fuel may be essential, especially if you have electrical equipment necessary to the well being of your animals.

  • Secure or remove anything that could become blowing debris; make a habit of securing trailers, propane tanks, and other large objects. If you have boats, feed troughs, or other large containers, fill them with water before any high wind event. This prevents them from blowing around and also gives you an additional supply of water.

  • If you use heat lamps or other electrical machinery, make sure the wiring is safe and that any heat source is clear of flammable debris.

  • Label hazardous materials and place them all in the same safe area. Provide local fire and rescue and emergency management authorities with information about the location of any hazardous materials on your property.

  • Remove old buried trash—a potential source of hazardous materials during flooding that may leech into crops, feed supplies, water sources, and pasture.

  • Review and update your disaster plan, supplies, and information regularly.

Sheltering in Place

If evacuation is not possible, a decision must be made whether to confine large animals to an available shelter on your farm or leave them out in pastures. Owners may believe that their animals are safer inside barns, but in many circumstances, confinement takes away the animals' ability to protect themselves. This decision should be based on the type of disaster and the soundness and location of the sheltering building.

Survey your property for the best location for animal sheltering. If your pasture area meets the following criteria, your large animals may be better off out in the pasture than being evacuated:

  • No exotic (non-native) trees, which uproot easily

  • No overhead power lines or poles

  • No debris or sources of blowing debris

  • No barbed wire fencing (woven wire fencing is best)

  • Not less than one acre in size (if less than an acre, your livestock may not be able to avoid blowing debris).

If your pasture area does not meet these criteria, you should evacuate. Whether you evacuate or shelter in place, make sure that you have adequate and safe fencing or pens to separate and group animals appropriately. Work with your state department of agriculture and county extension service. If your animals cannot be evacuated, these agencies may be able to provide on-farm oversight. Contact them well in advance to learn their capabilities and the most effective communication procedure.

Barn Fires: The Most Common Disaster

Preventing barn fires and being prepared in the event of a fire can mean the difference between life and death for your livestock. Knowledge of the danger of fires and how to deal with them is of the greatest importance and should be an ongoing concern to livestock owners.

Fire Prevention Is Key

  • Prohibit smoking in or around the barn. A discarded cigarette can ignite dry bedding or hay in seconds.

  • Avoid parking tractors and vehicles in or near the barn. Engine heat and backfires can spark a flame. Also, store other machinery and flammable materials outside the barn.

  • Inspect electrical systems regularly and immediately correct any problems. Rodents can chew on electrical wiring and cause damage that can quickly become a fire hazard.

  • Keep appliances to a minimum in the barn. Use only when someone is in the barn.

  • Install a sprinkler system.

  • Be sure hay is dry before storing it. Hay that is too moist may spontaneously combust. Store hay outside of the barn in a dry, covered area when possible.

Be Prepared for a Fire

  • Mount fire extinguishers in all buildings, especially at all entrances. Make sure they are current and that your family and employees know how to use them.

  • Keep aisles, stall doors, and barn doors free of debris and equipment.

  • Have a planned evacuation route for every area of your farm, and familiarize all family members and employees with your evacuation plans.

  • Post emergency telephone numbers at each telephone and at each entrance. Emergency telephone numbers should include those of the veterinarian, emergency response personnel, and qualified livestock handlers. Also, keep your barn's street address clearly posted to relay to the 911 operator or your community's emergency services.

  • Be sure your address and the entrance to your farm are clearly visible from the main road.

  • Install smoke alarms and heat detectors in all buildings. New heat sensors can detect rapidly changing temperatures in buildings. Smoke detectors and heat sensors should be hooked up to sirens that will quickly alert you and your neighbors to a possible fire.

  • Host an open house for emergency services personnel in your area to familiarize them with the layout of your property. Provide them with tips on handling your animals or present a mini-seminar with hands-on training.

  • Familiarize your animals with emergency procedures and common things they would encounter during a disaster.

  • Try to desensitize them to flashlights and flashing lights.

In the Event of a Barn Fire

  • Immediately call 911 or your local emergency services.

  • Do not enter any building if it is already engulfed in flames.

  • If it is safe for you to enter the barn, evacuate animals starting with the most accessible ones.

  • Move animals quickly to a fenced area far enough from the fire and smoke. Never let animals loose in an area where they are able to return to a burning building.

Evacuation Planning

  • The leading causes of death of large animals in hurricanes and similar events are collapsed barns, dehydration, electrocution, and accidents resulting from fencing failure. If you own farm animals, you should take precautions to protect them from these hazards, no matter what the disaster potential for your area.

  • Evacuate animals as soon as possible. Be ready to leave once the evacuation is ordered. In a slowly evolving disaster, such as a hurricane, leave no later than 72 hours before anticipated landfall, especially if you will be hauling a high profile trailer such as a horse trailer. Remember: Even a fire truck fully loaded with water is considered "out of service" in winds exceeding 40 mph. If there are already high winds, it may not be possible to evacuate safely.

  • Arrange for a place to shelter your animals. Plan ahead and work within your community to establish safe shelters for farm animals. Potential facilities include fairgrounds, other farms, racetracks, humane societies, convention centers, and any other safe and appropriate facilities you can find. Survey your community and potential host communities along your planned evacuation route.

  • Contact your local emergency management authority and become familiar with at least two possible evacuation routes well in advance.

  • Set up safe transportation. Trucks, trailers, and other vehicles suitable for transporting livestock (appropriate for transporting each specific type of animal) should be available, along with experienced handlers and drivers.

  • Take all your disaster supplies with you or make sure they will be available at your evacuation site. You should have or be able to readily obtain feed, water, veterinary supplies, handling equipment, tools, and generators if necessary.

  • If your animals are sheltered off your property, make sure they remain in the groupings they are used to. Also, be sure they are securely contained and sheltered from the elements if necessary, whether in cages, fenced-in areas, or buildings.

Farm Disaster Kit

Make a disaster kit so you have supplies on hand in the event of a disaster. Place the kit in a central location and let everyone know where it is. Check the contents regularly to ensure fresh and complete supplies. Include the following items, then add items that you use every day:

  • Current list of all animals, including their location and records of feeding, vaccinations, and tests. Make this information available at various locations on the farm. Make sure that you have proof of ownership for all animals.

  • Supplies for temporary identification of your animals, such as plastic neckbands and permanent markers to label your animals with your name, address, and telephone number.

  • Basic first aid kit.

  • Handling equipment such as halters, cages, and appropriate tools for each kind of animal.

  • Water, feed, and buckets. Tools and supplies needed for sanitation.

  • Disaster equipment such as a cell phone, flashlights, portable radios, and batteries.

  • Other safety and emergency items for your vehicles and trailers.

  • Food, water, and disaster supplies for your family.

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.

"And God took a handful of southernly wind, blew His breath over it and created the horse."     --Bedouin Legend

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