By Sarah E Coleman
Natural disasters are not pleasant to think about as a home owner, but add a farm with an assortment of animals and outbuildings into the equation, and preparation takes on an even more prominent role in diverting disastrous consequences.
Step One: Gather Information
The types on natural disasters most likely to occur vary by region of the country. Here in Kentucky, we are most likely to see tornadoes and flooding before we will see out-of-control wildfires and hurricanes. Other types of disasters do occur here, however, though they may not readily spring to mind. These can include chemical spills, barn fires and explosions.
Some of the things you need to prepare for a natural disaster include:
- Make a list of farm inventory. While this might seem like overkill, if the worst does happen, you’ll be one step ahead of the game when it comes to dealing with insurance companies and filing a claim. On this inventory list, you should record the number and type of animals on the farm; any crops you may have; the make and model of all machinery; and any hazardous substances stored on the farm (fertilizer, fuel, medicines, etc.).
- Keep a list of emergency phone numbers, and update them regularly. This would include the numbers of your local veterinarian, your insurance agent, local fire and police, and the contact numbers of any boarders you may have at your farm.
- Create an evacuation plan. If you don’t have the means to remove all the horses from your farm on the trailers located on the property, locate additional trailering resources and their cell phone numbers, and find out just how many horses they can help you remove from your property.
- Install a weather app on your phone, whether or not you can hear emergency sirens from your farm.
As Stormy Weather Approaches....
While it’s one more thing on the to-do list, it’s helpful to contact your insurance agent yearly and go over any additional purchases you have made and determine if you need additional coverage. It might be worthwhile to investigate “all-hazard” insurance, which covers flood and hail damage, as well as some other non-traditional issues.
Next you will need to stockpile supplies in preparation for a weather-related event. This would include everything from ensuring that the animals have a multiple-day supply of feed and hay; making sure you have extra fuel for tractors and vehicles; that fire extinguishers are available and charged in all barns; and that hand tools and first-aid supplies are readily accessible. Also important is a working generator and extra fuel.
And don’t forget your two-legged family, as well. Easy-open containers of food; bottled water; a flashlight and extra batteries; and a well-stocked first-aid kit are all essential if a disaster occurs.
If you have employees on the farm or if your barn has boarders, it’s important to review with them the plan on what to do in case of a natural disaster. Where is the safest area to shelter in place or where will you evacuate to if flood waters are rising? What happens to the horses—are they turned out or left in the barn? Be sure to establish a phone tree so that if the worst does happen, you’re able to quickly update owners on their horses.
While most farms have access to city water, it is not a bad idea to have a hand pump available to ensure a clean water supply. In many natural disasters, municipal water supplies become contaminated and unsafe to drink.
If you know strong winds and/or tornadoes may be in the forecast, be sure to secure any items that may become flying objects, like feed troughs, barrels, jumps, and similar items. It is also worth considering putting halters (the breakaway kind) on horses before a weather-related event occurs.