Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Disaster preparedness

With all the recent flooding and tornadoes and general crazy weather all over our great country I thought a post on preparing for disasters might be in order. Several of you have asked me what I do with the horses when we have a tornado warning. Let me just say here and now that these are just my views and probably vary from other folks ways of doing things. In the end we all just do what we think is best for us and our animals right? Since I spent most of my years in Florida I am well used to the drill of Hurricane season and being prepared for the worst. Several times we had to make some difficult decisions on what to do with the stock and ourselves during and after the storm. The first thing I must say that I do to be prepared for any natural disaster is that I keep enough grain and hay on hand to feed my horses for a month. Some may feel that is absurd, but let me tell you after witnessing Hurricane Andrew and the aftermath there was nowhere left to go and get supplies and animals were unfortunately not a first priority. I also keep medications like Bute, Banamine and Ace here at my disposal and yes I am adept at giving shots muscular and intraveinously. Work with your vet and be taught properly how to administer drugs if necessary. I keep a horsey first aid kit in the barn and also in my horse trailer should we need to make a quick getaway. I personally used to glue luggage tags in my horses manes when a hurricane was approaching, also I haltered them with a snug halter and duct taped a camera vial with my info inside.
Perhaps the most important thing I learned from hurricane Andrew was that you need to have your horses papers AND a current picture of you with your horse available after the storm. I cannot tell you how many horses were not returned to rightful owners because they had no way to prove they owned them. Keep a list or have your vet's and farrier's phone number in your cell phone and by your land phone. In the case of a hurricane we decided that up to 100 mile an hour winds we would stall the horses, after that we turned them loose in a 100 acre pasture some friends grew sod on. It is a crap shoot since I saw horses killed when barns collapsed on them and I also saw horses die after being exposed to flying debris.

Now that I am here in North country I have winter storms, tornadoes and well this year floods to deal with. The feed and first aid kits still apply here as well. Something I learned this past month also was to find ALL alternate routes to and from your house out of town. Since most of the roads to my house were comprised or destroyed in the floods I was panicked at how I was going to get home to rescue the boys we left in the pasture. Thank God for GPS units......we just kept driving and letting it recalculate when we could not find a way through normal routes. During tornado outbreaks I generally leave the horses out in the pasture, there is generally not enough warning to get the human population and animal population rounded up in time, not to mention they love to come in the dead of night for some reason.....

I think as responsible horse owners we all must do our best to prepare for the worst and take care of our steeds as best we can in times of crisis. Hope this sparked some thinking about your plans and let me know your thoughts as always.
Happy trails....


Mrs Mom said...

Good post, and I for one was DARN glad to see your info on Hurricanes. I went from Tundra Country- where winter storms were no big deal to me- we had 3000 bales of our own hay in the barn, streams we could (and did) chop open, etc.... But here in the Southland? RIGHT on the coast? Hurricanes scare the crap out of me- the winds, the high water... We are a good ways (30-ish or so miles) inland, so I dont think that flooding is going to be much of an issue, but the winds are another story.

Great info, and points. Keep them coming!

Pony Girl said...

Thanks for the informative post, TRC. I think you had some really good ideas, especially the horse identification information.
We have to face the possibility of big earthquakes here. It sure made me think about having that supply of hay and water!