You have probably seen the news footage of the horrific fires in California or remember the recent floods across the South and Texas. Other news footage of people turning their horses or livestock loose so they have some chance to survive is heartbreaking to us all.
Being prepared to help yourself and others
In this article, I want to reflect how you and I can be able to help in a tragedy in your area. The secret to being able to do this is to be prepared to help yourself, your horses and your friends. In an emergency, time is precious and being ready to move your rig or animals is critical.
Several years ago, I was quoted in the Washington Post newspaper during a time we were helping in a flood, that in an emergency, you can not wait for the government to show up and fix things, as you have to do the best you can for those around you. It is no different today. Yes there are wonderful agencies, community groups and churches that can help but often it is days or weeks before help arrives.
I offer some thoughts that might be helpful to you and those around you if there is an emergency. It may save your life, your animals and people around you.
In your community, wherever you are, most of us are winterizing our horse trailers to be stored for the winter. I am doing this to my trailer as well, but I am also making sure my trailer is ready to go in an emergency. That emergency may be our own at home from a fire or flood, or it may be to help a friend or neighbor in an emergency.
First, even if you have winterized the water system, make sure your generator fuel tank is full. This helps prevent moisture build up but also makes it ready to go when needed. I add a gas additive or Seafoam to the tank to make sure it is not gummed up when needed. I also start my home generator and my trailer generator every Monday to make sure all is well.
Second, make sure the propane tanks are full. If your home heat goes out or if you have unexpected guests that need to overnight, that propane stove or furnace will work. If not needed, you are ready for spring travel.
Make copies of your coggins, driver’s license, insurance and emergency numbers and put it in your trailer. During an emergency, it is difficult to find many of these things. Yes, I know copies are not the same thing, especially the driver’s license and coggins, but most officials will accept the information in an emergency when you have to travel.
Take a moment to take photos of your horses and pets plus consider adding a identification chip. You have to remember that there are some people that ‘rescue’ horses and pets have the best intentions. You can help get a horse or dog back with a clear photo of identification in many occasions.
A few years ago, we took two trailer loads of supplies to a horse community during a hurricane. Electricity was off in that area. Translation: ATM’s do not work, gas stations can not take credit cards and you are stuck. Therefore, we recommend taking enough cash and keeping it in your trailer for fuel and food purchases to get you home.
We keep our trailer plugged in and canned food, dry foods, and personal items such as soap, paper towels, etc are there. Yes, I know it costs a bit of electricity but we also use a small electric heater with a thermostat to keep the trailer 40 degrees or more all the time. Again, the trailer is ready to go.
I carry an electric chain saw that works on any 120 volt plug or your generator and a 100 foot cord. On two occasion in my years of travel, trees blocked the road and it was the way we got through. Even if there is a local thunderstorm in the summer, it might be hours before a crew comes through to open the road.
Despite the temperature, water can be obtained most anywhere, so I do not worry about that. I do make sure we have several packaged, compressed bales of hay that are kept in the trailer in case we have a fire and have to move horses. If you respond to help a neighbor or friends, you may need to transport their horses back to your place. Having hay ready for the trip or return trip is smart.
We recently changed our hard line phones to cell phones, even in the office. This now lets us keep the office open all the time when we travel. (you can keep your original numbers). On our phones we have what is commonly known as a ‘hot spot’. This allows us to have Internet anywhere we travel. I highly recommend you have this on your phone as well. In emergency locations, this allows you Internet to do banking, check on friends and to be informed.
I strongly recommend you have a pre-planned evacuation location in all directions, (north, south, east, west).
Those locations can be the home of friends that have room for you to park. I suggest about two hours away and a pre-understanding that you can come there OR they can come to you in an emergency. Two hours usually gets you at of the danger area and allows enough travel time to return home with just your vehicle.
Finally, when I travel, we have someone to stay in our home. That being said, that does not mean they may know how to care for livestock or pets. It just gets a warm body that can call you or give you information when you are away. I enlist two separate people to check on things on the farm that are familiar with our place. However, at the risk of being sneaky, one person does not know the other is checking on things. In other words, one checks in the morning and the other in the afternoon. That way, if one can not come by, the other has things covered. More importantly, I ask them to call me when they are there so I know things were checked. If you are away helping someone in an emergency, you need to know there is someone that can mend a fence or feed the cat.
It is just living the American way to help your neighbors, friends and family. Horse folks seem to have a higher calling to help other horse people and their community. I see it over and over. So, take a few minutes to make sure you are prepared to help yourself, your neighbors or folks that need you elsewhere in an emergency. You will never regret it.
As always, you can contact me anytime at my personal e mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Seay, Trailmaster
Host of Best of America by Horseback Television Show