Hurricane Season has started. So, have you started your hurricane preparation for your horses and barn?
To begin, having lived most of my adult life on the Gulf Coast, I appreciate the need for hurricane preparation. At one point in my career, I managed several industrial gas plants all along the Gulf Coast. Even with tremendous hurricane planning, after each storm, we learned something new and added to our preparation plans. And, managing a horse barn is no different.
So, I am sharing my planning process. It relates to my small barn, but also applies to large facilities. Even in writing this, I consulted additional resources to make sure there was nothing I was missing. And, I found this year something new and interesting…Equine Simplified is helping me with my planning process. This is the first year that I have incorporated Equine Simplified in my checklist…so exciting!
As I was always taught, take care of your horse before you take care of yourself. Both are important, but in this case, the horse preparation can take a bit longer, thus making it better to tackle first.
Have a plan. What will you do if a major hurricane comes? Will you ride it out or evacuate? Further, will horses remain in the barn or in open fields? If you evacuate, where will you take them? These are decisions you should evaluate and make NOW, before the panic of a storm sets in.
Horse documents. Gather all documents and keep them in safe places (and loading them in Equine Simplified ensures you can access them from any device). Make sure you have a current coggins, especially if you need to relocate a horse. Finally, have all insurance details and vet information readily available.
Vaccines. Make sure your horses have updated vaccines. Flu/Rhino, Tetanus Toxoid, Rabies, Eastern/Western Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, Strangles (especially if you are taking them somewhere), etc. Accordingly, you can see vaccine reports in Equine Simplified
Horse photos. If you are concerned about being separated from your horses, you should plan to have detailed horse photos. At any time, you can load these onto Equine Simplified for reference.
Horse identification. Further, if you are concerned about being separated from your horse, make sure you clearly identify your horse. Some ways to do that include:
First aid kit. Replenish your first aid kit as needed. To this point, check medication expirations and discard old medications. Also consider emergency vet services may be limited during or after a storm, so have basic medications on hand to handle mild colics, cuts, dehydration, etc.
Refill medications. Give yourself enough time to refill medications and supplements prior to the hurricane event.
Button down the hatches. With these storms comes high winds. Something as innocuous as a water bucket or brush can become a projectile.
Stock up on grain, shavings, hay. I prefer to have 3 weeks supply on hand. If a large hurricane arrives, the supply chain can be easily interrupted. Additionally, check your supplements and order early if necessary.
Water. If you have a well, get a generator (and test your hookup prior) so that you have water during the duration of any prolonged power outage. Also, bring water troughs into the barn and fill them. You can also fill plastic trash cans.
Gas up all vehicles and tractors and fill gas cans. Gas may be scarce after a storm, so make sure you stock up in advance.
First aid kit and medication refills. Similar to the horses, review supplies, expiration dates, and refill timing to make certain you have essential supplies.
Food and water. Like he horses, stock up on dog food with a minimum 3 week supply. In addition, have plenty of drinkable water available and clean bowls.
Identification. Make sure you dogs and cats have a collar with clear identification. If you are concerned about being separated, consider adding your emergency contact (someone outside of the hurricane path) to their collar.
Medical records. Gather all medical records and microchip information and keep them in a safe place (and loading them in Equine Simplified ensures you can access them from any device). Have all insurance details and vet information.
Muzzle and leash. A dog may panic, so consider having a muzzle on hand.
Much is similar with your preparation for your horses and pets. We often think about making sure we have food, water, medicines, gas, flashlights and batteries. But, here are a few additional considerations based on what I learned from riding out Category 5 hurricanes.
Have a plan. Now that you have addressed your animals, where will you stay? Do you have a room to huddle in if a tornado comes? Have you designated an emergency contact outside of the storm path?
Prepare for the heat. Normally in Southeast Texas, hurricanes come when it is hot and humid. What is your plan if you are out of power for days with 100 degree temperatures?
Get your home ready. Assess your insurance coverage in the event of a storm and potential water damage. Make sure your key electronic devices and air conditioners have surge protection. Seal windows and doors, as we often see horizontal driving rains that can penetrate poor seals. Secure documents in safe place and consider moving valuables that could be damaged by water.
Charge batteries. If power is out, what is your plan to charge your cell phone, tablet or computer? Think about how you get information and make sure you can power it for days.
Septic systems. If power is out and your septic tanks fill up with rain, how will you address this? Incidentally, this happened to me during Hurricane Ike. Fortunately, we found a septic truck driving through the neighborhood, and he pumped us out).
Generators. How much gas does your generator use and how long does a five gallon gas can last? You will definitely want to know the answer to this question before the hurricane hits!
Refrigerators. If you are going to be away from a location during the hurricane event, empty out the refrigerator in advance. We learned this the hard way at my office during Hurricane Ike. The refrigerator/freezer was full and after having no power for six days, cleaning out the refrigerator was an unpleasant experience.
In all, hurricane preparation for your horses and barn takes advanced planning. Doing it right will ease some of the stress associated with an upcoming storm and help you safely navigate the storm with your animals.