Preparing for Disaster – Tips to keep you and your horses safe as Hurricane Florence approaches.

September 12th, 2018 12:15 PM | No Comments
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For more information visit the National Hurricane Center. Image courtesy of NHC.

As many are settling in for a nice fall day, fellow horseman are preparing for the worst as Hurricane Florence threatens their safety and that of their horses.

 “Dangerous Hurricane Florence is on a path that will put millions of people at risk and threaten billions of dollars in property damage centered on the Carolinas beginning on Thursday and continuing through this weekend.

“A jump in strength to a Category 5 hurricane is possible Wednesday to Thursday, before some weakening may take place prior to landfall to end the week,” according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

Even though Florence is moving swiftly to the northwest at this time, AccuWeather meteorologists believe that the hurricane will stall and meander near the Carolina coast from Thursday night to Saturday.”

Read the Complete Accuweather Update HERE

Many of our industry’s own are in the path of Florence, including Shane and Holt Pope who are located right on the current expected path. For now, they are safe and according to Holt’s Facebook they are nearly ready and have a plan to keep both their family and the horses safe.

“Everything is in and the windows are being prepped now.  The concrete barn has hurricane clips in and should be fine. Shane is staying in the barn with his parents while I take the girls to a relative’s up the road. Shane won’t leave the farm and I don’t want to be too far away, so I will be not too far from them, but in a new brick house-with a generator.”

The World Equestrian Games just kicked off on Tuesday in Mill Spring, North Carolina at the Tyron International Equestrian Center.  The facility is about 300 miles outside of the mandatory evacuation zone but is still at risk for heavy rain and flooding depending on where Florence tracks.

Thankfully the facility has been built to withstand winds up the 90MPH and was actually a refuge for horses in 2017 during Hurricane Irma.  The facility is equipped with numerous generators on site as well as high volume wells.

So for now the WEG will continue in Mill Spring with the plan to keep the horses on site unless evacuation becomes necessary.

We urge our readers and community to pack up supplies for themselves and their horses (and dogs and cats and various barn life). Be sure to have clean drinking water, and plenty of non perishable foods. Move to high ground if possible and find safe places for livestock and horses. We have compiled a list of things that officials are urging agricultural facilities to do to prepare.

  • Anticipate power outages.  Check to see that your generator is in good working order. Consider purchasing a generator if you currently don’t have one. 
  • In the event you require a generator for emergency agricultural purposes (i.e. milking cows, cooling milk tanks, poultry house ventilation), contact your Town Officials.  Make sure your house or barn has been wired such that a generator could be connected and that you have a transfer switch or other isolated means to connect to the generator. 
  • Charge batteries on cell phones and cameras. 
  • Check feed inventory and order extra if needed. Move feed, including round bales to higher ground, or to a more accessible place in case of flooding or transportation problems. 
  • Determine the best places for livestock on your property, where they have the best chance of being free from flying debris, heavy winds and rain.   This may mean moving livestock and poultry to higher ground if possible or sheltering them in securely battened barns, houses or tightly fenced areas. 
  • Secure or remove items or equipment that could become blowing debris. 

Always prepare for more than you think you will need! You never know when a friend or neighbor may be in need of some extra help.

The key to remaining calm and keeping your animals safe during an emergency is being prepared.  Natural disasters can strike anywhere at any time, and pet owners have the responsibility of including their animals in their emergency plan. When planning for pets includes horses, it requires even more consideration.

Cindy Gendron, coordinator for The Homes for Horses Coalition, said: “Different types of disasters call for different responses, from evacuating your horses to keeping them safe in a barn or in a field. Once you understand your options, the next steps are developing a plan, organizing your resources and practicing and training for possible scenarios. If a disaster does strike, you’ll be ready to protect yourself and your horse.”  The ASPCA’s Top 10 Disaster Readiness Tips for Horses can help you protect your horses from both natural disasters and ordinary accidents.  In addition, The HSUS offers the following considerations.

Planning for a disaster

·       Permanently identify each horse by tattoo, microchip, brand, or photograph. In your records, include the horse’s age, sex, breed, and color. Keep this information with your important papers.

·       Keep halters ready for your horses. On each halter attach a luggage tag with the following information: the horse’s name, your name, email address, your telephone number, and another emergency telephone number where someone can be reached. At the time of evacuation, consider additional temporary identification such as a leg band.

·       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 will be easy for you to access, so you can take them with you when you and your horses evacuate.

·       Prepare a basic first aid kit that is portable and easily accessible.

·       Be sure to include enough water (12 to 20 gallons per day per horse), hay, feed, and medications for several days for each horse.

·       Make arrangements in advance to have your horse trailered in case of an emergency. If you don’t have your own trailer or don’t have enough room in your trailer for all of your horses, be sure you have several people on standby to help evacuate your horses.

Evacuation

·       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 today so they become used to it if or when an emergency strikes.

·       Know where you can take your horses in an emergency evacuation. When possible, make arrangements with a friend or another horse owner to stable your horses well beyond the region at risk.

·       Contact your local animal care and control agency, agricultural extension agent, or local emergency management authorities for information about shelters in your area.

If you cannot evacuate with your horse

·       Have a back-up plan in case it’s impossible to take your horse with you when you evacuate. 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.

·       Share your evacuation plans with friends and neighbors. Post detailed instructions in several places—including the barn office or tack room, the horse trailer, and barn entrances—to ensure emergency workers can see them in case you are not able to evacuate your horses yourself.

Additional planning is required when moving the following:  exceptionally young, exceptionally old or mobility-impaired equines, stallions, especially high strung horses, or a large number of horses.  Being located far from a main road is an added complication to factor into your plan.

PleasureHorse.com wants to extend our thoughts and prayers to all in Florence’s path and we hope these tips help everyone to stay safe in this or any emergency situation.

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