Is Your Barn Prepared for Emergencies?


Horses under a storm cloudWhat would you do if your farm was threatened by flooding, tornadoes or wildfires? Where would your horses go?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has set May 8 as National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day and encourages all pet and animal owners to have a plan in case natural disaster strikes. When an evacuation is called, there is rarely time to make decisions about animals, particularly large animals that can’t simply ride along in the car. Furthermore, an evacuation may last days or weeks, meaning residents may not be able to return to check on animals that had to be left behind.

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers tips for animal owners to prepare for disaster.

-Familiarize yourself with any type of disaster that may affect your area, including non-natural emergencies such as a hazardous materials spill.

-Be prepared for a possible disruption of services, such as electricity and water. Identify a backup source of food and water for your horses.

-Err on the side of caution. If an evacuation seems likely, don’t wait until the last minute. Having time to take your horses with you is the easiest way to avoid potential problems in a disaster’s aftermath.

-Maintain your pastures and barns. Get rid of unstable structures and dead trees on your property, and maintain your fences. This will minimize danger in a situation where you do have to leave your horses behind.

-Have a backup person, ideally a neighbor, that will be able to implement your animal evacuation plan if you are not at home.

-Practice your evacuation plan, especially trailer loading.

-Know the location of equine evacuation sites nearby. These may be equine hospitals, fairgrounds or other boarding facilities.

One of the most important things you can do for your horses is to make sure they have some form of identification. Have a halter with a nameplate or tag that lists your name and phone number. If disaster is impending, leave your horse’s halter on so that relief workers will immediately be able to contact your if you are unable to return home. Make sure your dogs and cats are wearing collars with this information as well. Microchips can provide permanent identifications for all of your animals.

The AVMA recommends keeping the following in an evacuation kit for your horses.

-7-10 day supply of feed, supplements, and water.
-Bandannas (to use as blindfolds)
-Copies of veterinary records and proof of ownership
-Duct tape
-Emergency contact list
-First aid kit
-Fly spray
-Heavy gloves
-Hoof knife
-Hoof nippers
-Hoof pick
-Hoof rasp
-Instructions for feeding and medications
-Leg wraps/quilt bandages
-Maps of local area w/alternate evacuation routes
-Halters and leads
-Paper towels
-Plastic trash cans with lids (can be used to store water)
-Radio (solar and/or battery operated)
-Rope or lariat
-Trash bags
-Water buckets
-Wire cutters

For more information, view the AVMA brochure, Saving the Whole Family. Click here.

For more emergency preparedness information for horse owners, click here.


  1. All three of my horses have metal name tags braided into their tails if they should get away during a bad storm. This is good info for anyone just starting with a new barn.

  2. I live in hurricane country so my barn is always ready. So is the barn I care for. We have a high place to take the police horses(our town floods like crazy), water for the horses for when (not if) the power goes out and the pump quits working, a fully stocked first aid kit, plenty of hay and feed, necessary materials for whatever repairs may need to be done and insurance to fix the big things. The horses are all marked with livestock markers with both phone numbers(mine and dispatch) if they have to leave, all the paperwork is in one spot—for the police horses, it’s in the truck, for my horses, it’s in the trailer. All of my computer files are backed up on thumbdrives and hard copies,etc. I have lived in this area a long time and have learned a lot about surviving before, during, and after a storm.


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