In North America the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June through November, however its peak takes place around August and September. Taking action and planning for these natural disasters for your family and horses is fundamental, and a full disaster plan should include both preparations before and after the storm.
Horse owners and everyone that is worried about hurricane season can read the following information to find out what to do in case of a storm. Prevention is the best way to stay safe from natural disasters!
You should look out for your horses and farm. Starting with horses:
Make sure all horses have their tetanus toxoid vaccine within the last year. This is because there is an increase in mosquitoes after massive rainfall, so horses shouldreceive the West Nile virus and Eastern/Western Encephalitis Vaccinations.
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Perform a Coggins Test. This is a blood test that helps identify if a horse carries Equine Infectious Anemia. If the horse has to be evacuated to a community shelter or cross the state, they will need to have a negative Coggins test.
Manage Identification and Health Certificate. Health certificates are necessary to cross the state line and horses should be identified with the name and farm information and phone number. Your horse could be identified with a leather halter in a sealed plastic bag, a luggage tag braided into the tail and photos as proof of ownership. Make sure this is waterproof.
Safe evacuation. Leaving flood plains and coastal areas is recommended, and this has to take place 48h before the hurricane force winds occur in the area. If we transport horses when wind gusts exceed 65/kph it could be dangerous.
It depends. If the pasture has good fencing and there are limited trees, it is probably the best place to leave the horses. However, when barns are made out of concrete they provide safety from any flying debris.
Inconveniences include the horses may become trapped if the wind collapses the building, so you will need to assess whether it is safer to leave the horses inside the barn or out in the pasture.
When leaving horses out, keep in mind:
Water: Each horse should have between 45 and 75 litres of water per day. For this, you could have a generator in order to run the well if there are many horses.
Food storage: Store a minimum of 72 hours of feed and hay as roads could be closed, limiting the access to feed stores. Make sure to cover the hay with waterproof tarps and place it on pallets.
Secure any objects from hallways, place vehicles in an open field where trees cannot fall on them and turn off electrical power. Also, keep in hand an emergency first aid kit and emergency tools. These should include:
Inspect each horse carefully to make sure they are not injured in their eyes or limbs. Then, remove debris from the pasture, in particular make sure there are no Red Maple tree branches as these are very toxic to horses.
Inspect the property and take pictures of the storm damage. If your horse is missing, contact the local animal control or the disaster response team for guidance on what steps to take next.
Depending on the area you are from, there can be different emergency support functions that provide veterinary care until the community stabilizes. Make sure to be up to date on who you could ask for help if needed.