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OHSA Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Planning

UC Davis has a great summary to get you started with your disaster plan.  Click HERE

Equine U has a great workbook to help you create your disaster plan.

Another great summary comes from Markel Insurance.

We hope that all of our members and friends are safe at all times.  OHSA's home is in hurricane country so we are very familiar with the many decisions horse owners need to make during a disaster.  The very best advice is to have a plan in place BEFORE a disaster strikes. 

To get you started, here are some things to consider:

Identification - In the event of an emergency there is a chance that your fence may be compromised and your horse running free.  You'll want to get your horse back as quickly as possible and the fastest way is to make sure anyone coming into contact with your free roaming horse can reach you.  ID tags on breakaway halters can work - as long as the halter is still on the horse when he's found (do not use a halter that will not break should your horse become entangled).  Tags tied into the horse's mane or tail can be helpful too, but the person who finds your horse will need to get pretty close - if they're not equine savvy they may be fearful to get too close.  Writing your name/number on your horse's side either with latex paint or by clipping the info onto the horse's side is often one of the best ways - people can see the info from a distance, so that even if they can't get close to your horse they may still be able to reach you.

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photo from floridahorseshows.com

Medications - if your horse is on any specific medicine make sure you have plenty on hand to last at least 10 days.  Prescriptions may need to be filled ahead of time or specialized medicines may need to be ordered online or through your vet. 

Feed - have enough feed on hand for at least 10 days including any supplements.

Water - again, enough to keep your horses hydrated for 10 days is generally recommended.  Even if your emergency is a flood or hurricane with lots of water available, it may not be drinkable.  

Documents - keep your documents in a ready to go binder or pouch - waterproof is best in case of rain or other bad weather.  Documents you'll need include registration papers, health certificates and coggins tests (if needed), directions to your evacuation site, feeding instructions if you're hauling horses you don't normally care for.  

Contact information - for your destination if you're leaving your home, your vet's number, contact informatio for veterinarians at your destination, numbers of any friends you may have along your travel path should you run into any difficulties, information to contact your road hazard program (if you don't have one, may we suggest US Rider.

Stay or go? - this is a big question for those in areas with hurricanes.  Hunker down and wait out the storm?  Head for an area that can provide safety? It's a difficult decision that only you can make.  If you do want to evacuate make sure you have a place to go BEFORE you hit the road. And if you plan to cross state lines make sure you have any paperwork ready - coggins tests and/or health certificates may be required.  Horse owners in Florida are familiar with the state's coggins test requirements - even if the governor lifts the health certificate requirement, coggins tests will still be required. You'll be able to get out of the state but you won't be able to get back in without one.  Also consider the time you'll have to spend on the road and determine if your horse can take the stress.  Seasoned show horses may not have a problem but if your horse rarely travels by trailer then he may become more agitated which can lead to health concerns including colic.  You don't want to have to deal with the added stress in an already stressful situation. If you decide to stay you'll need to decide if you should keep your horse in the barn or turn them out.  Most experts agree that horses in a SAFE pasture are usually in a better position to weather a storm.  

Stay safe!

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