Hurricane Preparedness and Horse Ownership
Hurricane season is well upon us. Looking beyond Ida, more storms are sure to hit land in the coming months. Here are some tips to help you prepare your horses and farms.
Hurricane Ida has swept the eastern part of the United States, and her devastating effects will be far-reaching and long-lasting. Unfortunately, it usually takes an event like this to remind us to prepare for emergencies. Even though Ida is wrapping up her wrath, it’s worthwhile to consider how to best prepare for the next hurricane.
Here are some helpful tips for horse owners, courtesy of the University of Florida:
Before the Storm
Here are steps you can take for your horses before the storm arrives:
- Vaccinations: All horses should have a tetanus vaccine within the last year. Due to the significant increase in mosquitoes after massive rainfall, all horses should receive West Nile virus and Eastern/Western Encephalitis vaccinations at the beginning of hurricane season. If your horse has not been vaccinated in 4-6 months, get the booster now.
- Coggins test: A negative Coggins test is necessary if the horse needs to be evacuated to a community shelter or across state lines.
- Health Certificate: A health certificate is required to cross the state line. This may be necessary for evacuation of coastal areas.
- Identification: Make sure each of your horses is identified with at least one (if not all) of the following:
- A leather halter with name/farm information in a sealed plastic bag secured to the halter with duct tape.
- A luggage tag with the horse/farm name and phone number braided into the tail. Make sure this is waterproof.
- Photos of each horse as proof of ownership highlighting obvious identifying marks.
- Evacuation: If your horses are in a flood plains or a coastal area, evacuation always is recommended. Evacuation should occur 48 hours before hurricane force winds occur in the area because transportation of horses when wind gusts exceed 40 mph is dangerous.
- Should horses be left in the pasture or placed in the barn? If the pasture has good fencing and limited trees, it is probably best to leave the horses outside. Well constructed pole-barns or concrete block barns may provide safety from flying debris, but the horses may become trapped if the wind collapses the building.
- Electrical lines: Keep horses out of pastures with power lines.
- Trees: Trees with shallow roots will fall easily under hurricane force winds and can injure the horse or destroy the fencing.
- Fencing: Do not keep horses in barbed wire or electric fencing during a storm
- Dangerous pests: In some parts of the country, animals dangerous to horses (such as fire ants and snakes) can come to the surface. They will search for high ground during flooding, so you’ll need to look over your pasture and premises to keep yourself and your horses safe.
Here are steps you can take on your farm to prepare in advance:
- Each horse should have 12-20 gallons per day stored.
- Fill garbage cans with plastic liners and fill all water troughs.
- Have a generator to run the well if you have large numbers of horses.
- Keep chlorine bleach on hand to add to contaminated water if necessary. To purify water add two drops of chlorine bleach per quart of water and let stand for 30 minutes.
- Feed storage
- Store a minimum of 72 hours of feed and hay (seven days is best). 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.
- Secure all movable objects
- Remove all items from hallways.
- Jumps and lawn furniture should be secured in a safe place.
- Place large vehicles/tractors/trailers in an open field where trees cannot fall on them.
- Turn off electrical power to barn
- Have a thorough emergency first aid kit, which includes:
- Bandages (leg wraps and quilts)
- Topical antibiotic ointments
- Pain relievers (phenylbutazone or Banamine®)
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Extra halters/lead ropes
- Clean towels
- Fly spray
- Emergency tools
- Fence repair materials
- Wire cutters/tool box/pry bar
- Fire extinguisher
- Duct tape
After the Storm
Once the storm is over, be sure to make sure everyone has come out unscathed.
- Carefully inspect each horse for injury to eyes and limbs.
- Walk the pasture to remove debris and check for toxic plants that may have fallen or been swept into the pasture.
- Inspect the property for down power lines.
- Take pictures of storm damage.
- If your horse is missing, contact the local animal control or disaster response team.
Most states have animal emergency response teams. Look up the contact information for your area before a storm hits so that you can develop the best plan that works for your area.