Returning Home After a Disaster

The days or weeks after a disaster strikes can be emotionally draining and physically challenging.  A lack of sleep will impair your decisions and your ability to think smart.  When it comes time for you and your animals to return home it’s important to remember to take the following precautions.  Be sure you are prepared to handle these issues and think clearly, before you return home.

Returning home after an earthquake:

  • Visually check the stability of your home and/or barn, and if there is any doubt in the structural strength do not enter the property.  If an official inspection of your property has been done, and a notice is posted on your property, abide by what it says.  Don’t be foolish and put your life and the life of your animals in danger.
  • Check the stability of any fences that are used to confine animals.  If they are not secure, it is too early to return animals to the property.
  • Avoid any downed power lines.  Always assume electricity could still be running through them.
  • If electric fencing is used to confine animals, make sure the wiring has not been damaged.  If in doubt do not turn on the electricity.
  • Check for any gas leaks before entering your house, barn or kennel.  Do not light any matches, or create any kind of spark, until it is determined safe to do so.  If in doubt, get the help of someone more knowledgeable.

Returning home after a wildfire: 

  • Remove any burned wood and debris in the areas where your animals will be that can cause them harm.
  • Disassemble what remains of burned barns, stalls, or kennels.
  • Remove nails scattered on the ground.  When buildings catch on fire they explode, sending nails scattering through the air.  At a hardware store you can buy a large magnet attached to a long handle to use to find nails.
  • Any metal fences that have burned need to be wiped down before horses come in contact with them.  Heat causes the galvanizing to come to the surface, leaving a yellow residue that is toxic for horses should a horse lick it.
  • Turn over the soil in pastures or corrals and look for hot embers.  Bury as much of the ash as possible.
  • Get rid of any food or water covered with ash.
  • Avoid any downed powerlines.  Always assume electricity could still be running through them.
  • Do not turn on the electricity in the house, barn or kennels until they have been inspected.
  • Returning home after a flood:

    • Cautiously look for any poisonous snakes that may have gotten trapped inside houses, barns or kennels.Remove any debris that has collected in houses, barns or kennels.
    • Remove any mud to prevent horses from having to stand in it for prolonged periods of time, which can cause foot problems.
    • Check to make sure all the perimeter fences are still standing and secure.  If they are not, then do not return your animals to the property until it is secure.
    • Get rid of any food that has gotten wet. 
    • Empty all water containers, in case contaminated water collected in them during the flood.
    • Check any wooden floors for weakness caused by water damage.
    • Avoid any downed power lines.  Always assume electricity could still be running through them.
    • Do not turn on electricity in the house, barn or kennels until they have been inspected.
    • Do not use water from the tap until it has been determined to be safe to drink.  If you are being told by officials not to drink the water, then it is not safe for your animal either.
    • Do not light any matches, or create any kind of spark until it is determined safe to do so.  Flammable liquids can still be on the ground, brought there by flood water.

    Returning home after a hurricane or tornado: 

    • Remove any debris that could cause injury to your animals.
    • Visually check the stability of your home, barn or kennel and if there is any doubt in the stability of the structure, do not enter the property.  If an official inspection of your property has been done, and a notice is posted on your property, abide by what it says. 
    • Check to make sure all the perimeter fences are still standing and secure. If they are not, then do not bring your animals back to the property yet.
    • Avoid any downed power lines.  Always assume electricity could still be running through them.
    • Do not turn on the electricity in the house, barn or kennel until it is determined to be safe.  If in doubt contact your local utility company.
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