Are you ready?
Weeks after Louisiana was hit by a superstorm, weather experts have upped their hurricane projections for this year. They say we could see as many as 8 hurricanes before the season ends on November 30th.
Hurricane Matthew is ready to strike Florida and the east coast. Horse owners need to make a plan of action in case disaster strikes.
Experts say the leading causes of death for large animals during hurricanes include electrocution, kidney failure from dehydration, and being hit and killed on the road when fencing fails. Horses left in barns have also perished after stables collapsed or flooded.
Horse Tip 1
Have the proper identification records readily available for all of your horses. Take recent pictures of each horse and any markings that may help identify them. Include yourself in a photo as well.
Permanent ID methods such as a microchip or brand should be handled prior to the call for evacuation due to a storm. If your horse gets loose during a hurricane, the microchip’s registration number will identify your equine if your horse’s halter and other methods fail.
When preparing, plan on utilizing only a leather halter – no nylon – for safety reasons. A ziplock bag can easily be attached with your farm’s contact information and photos with duct tape. Include a luggage tag braided in the mane and tail, but be careful to tie it only to the hair, not close to the tailbone.
Spray paint or clippers also work well for marking numbers on the side of your horse’s body.
Horse Tip 2
When debris begins flying and there is an increase in standing water due to heavy rain so you want to make sure your horses’ vaccines are up to date.
Veterinarians recommend horses have a tetanus vaccine within a year.
Mosquitoes rage after massive rainfall making it important for your horses to get West Nile virus and Eastern / Western Encephalitis vaccinations at the beginning of hurricane season as well.
When it comes to evacuating, your horses will need a negative Coggins test (EIA) to cross state lines or to board at any evacuation center or private farm.
A health certificate is also necessary. These documents and your horse’s papers should always remain safely with you. Do not affix to your horse.
Horse Tip 3
Will you stay and weather the storm or evacuate? If evacuating, do you have the transportation capacity for all of your horses? It is important not to wait until the horses must load to practice trailer training. For some horses, those first times can be a daunting process. If your horse hasn’t been off the farm — start before it is a matter of life or death.
Every horse owner must decide what they are capable of depending on their ability, property, and other mitigating factors.
For those staying and taking care of the horses, where will the horses stay during the storm? Is your barn new construction and rated for hurricanes? Will your property stay dry even when deluged by intense rains for hours?
(Click the play button on the photo above to see what happens when a horse is left in flood water for a long period of time. It shows Jackie, a horse, and an August 2016 Louisiana flood victim being treated by Double Diamond Equine Veterinary Services for her injuries due to being in the flood waters.)
If not, what type of fencing do you have? Do you have power lines in the pasture? Trees?
Once you decide to stay, each horse will need at least 12-20 gallons/day of stored water.
Feed and hay will need to be kept on-site and protected from wet conditions. The barn’s power should be turned off before the storm hits.
And don’t contribute to flying debris that could impale your animals. Clean up around your property prior to the storm’s touch down.
Horse Tip 4
An Emergency First Aid Kit should contain basic emergency supplies. Several retailers sell pre-stocked kits or you can make your own. Prescription medications for pain relief, such as phenylbutazone (bute) or Banamine, must be purchased from your vet.
Include thermometer, liquid soap, rubber gloves, bandages, leg wraps, quilts, vet wrap, antiseptics, bandage scissors, topical antibiotic, pain relievers, tranquilizer, needles, syringes, gauze, cotton, 2″ adhesive tape, and duct tape.
Horse Tip 5
If you need to leave with your horses have a plan of where you will go and how you will get there.
Here is a list of horse evacuation sites by state, including Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
Tampa, FL 33610
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC 27607
2900 NC Hwy 125 South
Williamston, NC 27892
1200 Rosewood Drive
Columbia SC 29201
443 Cleveland School Rd
Camden, SC 29020
10515 Colonial Downs Parkway
New Kent County, Virginia 23124
(804) 966-7223 ext. 1070
487 Maury River Road
Lexington, Virginia 24450
According to the AP, there were 15 named storms during the 2004 hurricane season in Florida, nine of which were hurricanes. While we don’t know what 2016 has in-store for us, it is important we’re ready for whatever Mother Nature throws our way.
Planning ahead gives you the time and tools you need to be ready when the storm strikes — allowing you to keep your horses safe.