In anticipation of severe weather from Hurricane Ian, the University of Florida’s Large Animal Hospital is offering a hurricane preparation checklist for the state’s horse owners.
“Advance disaster planning for your family, pets, and horses is crucial to minimize panic and consequences should a storm strike your area,” states the hospital. In order to be better prepared, horse owners are encouraged to take the below-listed precautions.
Vaccines: Ensure that your horse’s core vaccines are up to date. These vaccines include Eastern/Western Encephalitis, West Nile, Tetanus Toxoid, and Rabies.
State transport requirements: To cross a state line, a health certificate and negative Coggins test are generally required. However, the state may waive the requirements when travel is necessary due to an emergency.
Evacuation: Evacuation of flood planes and coastal areas is recommended, and must occur 48 hours before hurricane force winds occur in the area. According to the checklist, it is dangerous to transport your horse when wind gusts exceed 40 miles per hour.
Identification: Each horse should be identified by at least one of the following:
- A leather halter with name/farm information in a Ziploc bag that is secured to the halter with duct tape.
- A luggage tag with horse/farm name and phone number braided into the tail. It is important to make sure this is waterproof.
- Photos of each horse as proof of ownership. These pictures should highlight any obvious identifying marks.
Shelter: According to the checklist, it is likely best to leave your horse outside if the pasture has good fencing and limited trees. While well-constructed pole barns or concrete block barns may provide safety from any flying debris, the horse may become trapped if the wind collapses the building. There are a few other safety concerns to consider:
- Keep your horse out of pastures with power lines.
- Trees with shallow roots will easily fall under hurricane force winds, and this can injure your horse or destroy the fencing.
- Do not keep your horse in barbed wire or electric fencing during a storm.
Water: There should be 12 to 20 gallons of water stored per day for each horse.
- Fill garbage cans with plastic liners and fill all water troughs.
- If you have a large number of horses, have a generator to run the well.
- Keep chlorine bleach on hand to add to any contaminated water, if necessary. To purify the water, add two drops of chlorine bleach per quart of water and let it stand for 30 minutes.
Feed storage: A minimum of 72 hours of feed and hay is recommended, though the checklist states that 7 days of feed and hay is ideal.
- Cover the hay with waterproof tarps and place it on pallets.
- Keep grain in watertight containers.
Secure all moveable objects: Remove all items from hallways, relocate jumps and lawn furniture out of harm’s way, and place any large/heavy machinery in an open field where trees are unable to fall on it.
Turn off electrical power to the barn.
Emergency tools: The following tools are recommended to keep on hand for fence repairs: chainsaw, hammer, nails, wire cutters, toolbox, pry bar, fire extinguisher, and duct tape. Stocking up on fuel is also recommended.
Emergency first aid kit: Have a first aid kit handy that includes bandages (leg wraps and quilts), antiseptics, scissors/knife, topical antibiotic ointments, tranquilizers, pain relievers (phenylbutazone or Banamine), a flashlight with extra batteries, extra halters/lead ropes, clean towels, and fly spray.
Once the severe weather is over, owners should carefully inspect each horse for any injuries to the eyes and limbs. Owners should walk the pasture to remove any debris, check for downed power lines, and to take pictures of the storm damage.
In the event that a horse is missing, owners should contact the local animal control or disaster response team.
For more information, visit the University of Florida Large Animal Hospital website.