Natural disasters come in many forms. Fire, flood, tropical cyclones and tornadoes are just some of the crueler sides to Mother Nature. How can you survive natural disasters? You can’t run or hide from them if you are in their path. What you can do instead is arm yourself with action plans so that when disaster strikes you are on the front foot, armed and ready to battle it out. We sometimes feel like life is full of checklists from one season to the next. However, being armed with valuable checklists and action plans can make a stressful situation manageable and in some cases reduce the loss of injury and damage.
Fires can decimate an area in minutes. In the heat of summer when temperatures are high and rain at a minimum it is easy to see how the intense heat and dryness of the landscape can spark wildfires. This is of course if one hasn’t been started as an accident or in some very sad cases by an arsonist.As the weather warms up it’s a great time to start checking your property for fire hazards. This includes any overgrown brush, scrub or grasses that can be cut back to reduce spot fires, ensuring all guttering is clear from leaves and debris and removing any unnecessary yard rubbish from the grounds. Do you have sufficient water on your property to help fight a fire or do you need to add more to tanks or top up dams?Make sure that all employees and family members have access to your evacuation and management plan as well as phone numbers to your local metro/ rural fire brigade or rescue service. In the event that there is a fire nearby do you have the means in which to evacuate all animals and people from your property in advance or is there a safer part of your property that is more protected from the elements? It is not always possible to leave your area. Keeping your horses calm will avoid them taking flight in fear at nearby fires.If fire isn’t an imminent danger to you and your property but smoke has blown into your area then take as many precautions as you can in alleviating smoke inhalation to both yourself and your horses. The effects of smoke inhalation can be both uncomfortable and dangerous. Ask your veterinarian when creating your action plan of the best treatment and prevention for both smoke inhalation and burns. Add this to your management plan.
Flood can be an event that comes from either substantial rain over a short period of time, or even flash flooding where a major volume of water collects and carries away from its original source. Of course flash flooding is by far harder to pre plan and manage but in the case or normal flooding from excess rain, it should be a lot more manageable. Each year do a walk around of your property and take care to notice any geographical changes to the land. This may be where a bank has corroded or waterways are wider and higher than normal. When hard and fast rain hits and your property is prevalent to bogged or flooded areas then make sure you have adequate space to move animals higher up in a secure area. Keep an eye on shed or stables that store your feeds so that they don’t become flooded or washed away. Your food source is vital during extreme weather. Mold isn’t something you want in your hay stacks once the clouds have cleared. It can lead to respiratory issues for your horses.
Tornadoes and Tropical Cyclones
This is one of the hardest to manage. There are so many other things to consider and safety for yourself and your family is paramount. There are two schools of thought when it comes to keeping your horses safe in case of a tornado or cyclone. Firstly, if you don’t live in an area that is normally impacted it probably wouldn’t be a priority to you to build a shelter for your horses that could help withstand the winds. In that case, you can only do what you feel is the best course of action for your stock given the amount of notice you are provided.If you live in an area that is prevalent to fierce winds then it might be worth investing in a concrete block or bank barn that has a lower level. In case of wild weather you would feel more secure about enclosing your horses in this type of structure. If the roof blows off they are more protected in a lower level concrete shelter. If you don’t have this option and would prefer to have them stalled then be aware in case the structure doesn’t survive the winds. This could trap or even be fatal for horses. Some owners feel that their horses are safer outside with heavy rugs on to protect them from flying debris. This gives the horse the option to take flight and run to where they feel safe. Be careful with any type of cover that it is free from anything that could get them caught on a fence or debris. Of course I’m sure that most owners would prefer to take them into their own basements however this is rarely possible. Do a perimeter check before wild weather and ensure that there are no loose items around that could become flying debris.You can only do so much to protect against Mother Nature and the havoc that she wreaks. If you live in an area that is prone to extreme weather then a backup management plan is a safe way to try and minimize damage and distress. By running through it with your staff and/or family you are giving them the best chance at success. When the time comes to put that action plan into place everyone knows their roles and can support you and your stock.