|Have fire extinguishers accessible every 50 feet in your barn, and make sure they are inspected annually. Photo: Elizabeth Moyer|
Barn fires are a horse owner’s worst nightmare, and a shockingly common occurrence. Knowing ahead of time what to do in case of a fire on your property can be the difference between minor property damage and a large-scale tragedy.
This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is “Have 2 Ways Out.” In the context of house fires, this means that families should have two escape routes out of every room in the house in case one exit is blocked by fire. For equestrian facilities, this is a reminder that having a back-up evacuation plan can help minimize the risk to horses and property in case of a barn fire.
The Equine Risk Management Group offers a fact sheet on fire prevention and preparedness for farm owners on their website at www.horse-safety.com. Their suggestions include:
- Have an emergency list of nearby farms that may be able to assist you in case a horse evacuation is necessary.
- Know what fire departments are closest to your farm—if you live near a town line, it may not be the department of the town you live in.
- Have directions to your farm posted near the phone where you’ll be able to read them to emergency dispatch.
- Ask your local fire department for an inspection of your barn, and enlist their help in creating a preparedness plan.
- Create an emergency escape plan, and make sure your family members, barn workers and boarders are all familiar with it.
- Know where you can bring horses in case of an evacuation. Make sure you have a turnout area far enough away from the barn to be safe in case of a fire.
- Have fire extinguishers located every 50 feet in the barn, and have them tested annually. Replace any that have expired.
Whether you are creating an evacuation plan for your home or barn, fire safety experts emphasize that the plan is only effective if it is practiced regularly.