I can't believe the news this weekend. In fact, I can't remember a time when weather-related tragedies have been so consistently in the news. My heart goes out to everyone in Iowa's floods and California's fires. I know there are horses in these places, and I hope everyone was prepared, although it sounds like the people in Iowa had no way of knowing the danger they were in.
So, it could happen to any of us, anytime.
After the recent tornado in Windsor, Colorado, veterinarians at Colorado State University compiled a list of simple hints and advice for horse owners in the event of a serious weather event or natural disaster in which horses are injured:
- Right now, not during an emergency, make contact with neighbors and be sure everyone has multiple halters, leads, ropes and first-aid kits on hand.
- First-aid kits should be stocked with bandage materials to treat lacerations and stop any bleeding while waiting for veterinarians to arrive.
- Have pain medications on hand such as Phenylbutazone (bute) or Banamine.
- Make sure horses are current on their vaccines, especially tetanus.
- If your horse is injured, call your local veterinarian to evaluate your horse and treat him on the farm if possible.
- If a wound or wounds are bleeding excessively, a wound is over a joint, a horse will not bear weight on one of its limbs, or the horse is showing signs of severe lameness, the horse may need to be hospitalized for treatment.
- Shock and dehydration is another concern during emergencies. Horses that are shaking or that are severely dehydrated may need IV fluids and hospitalization.
To that list, I would recommend buying a couple of good first-aid books...and reading them. (First aid for horses AND first aid for humans!) Also check with your local fire department for any recommendations that they have for evacuation routes or protocols for heavy snow, fires, bridge closures, etc. that might affect how you can transport your animals to a vet clinic or to a safe haven if needed.
It goes without saying that horses need to be schooled so they will load and unload quickly and quietly, whether by you or a stranger. Don't put that training off, even if you don't own a trailer.
Plan now. Just look at the news any night. It could be your horse running down the road away from a fire, or your horse swimming in the floods. Don't let that happen, if you possibly can!