Lately, I've been learning a lot about fire safety and prevention. One of the things I learnt that was really important was preparing and practising an evacuation plan. It's something that may be overlooked by many as they think that by just being careful and keeping the barn safe, it will be enough to prevent a fire from starting. In reality, a fire could start with a little wire, if the conditions are right, no matter how careful you may be. That's why it's important to have an evacuation plan in place and to practice it.
When preparing for an evacuation, you want to make sure that everything is always where it should be so that you aren't running around trying to find it. For example, halters and lead ropes should be hung on the stall's door and important documents should be located in an area of easy access or stored in your house. Little things like these will help the evacuation to go much more smoothly.
When practising your evacuation, you want to move your horses as quickly as possible which means you want your horses to cooperate. Try practising during different times throughout the day. Your horses may work with you better if they are blindfolded, but don't wait until an emergency to blindfold him. Get him used to being blindfolded and lead out and around the barn (this might also improve your bond at the same time).
Ideally, there should be more than one person evacuating all of the horses out of the barn. This isn't always the case sadly so make sure that you practice evacuating alone and with a group.
Not all stables have an alarm system that will notify the fire department immediately. Make sure to call them as early as possible. Chances are, the fire station is not down the street from you and it may take them as much as a half and hour to get to your property. Make sure that you call them, if possible before evacuating the horses, and give them all the information they need as clearly as you can. To help you, place a piece of paper beside each phone that lists everything you'll need to say so you can read off of it. Also, make sure that your address is clearly numbered at the side of the road so that the fire trucks don't miss your property and waste valuable time.
Finally, having two doors, one interior and one exterior, for each of the stalls is a great option to evacuate your horses quickly and easily. If all of your exterior stall doors lead each of the horses out into a large pasture, all you really have to do is let them out and close the door. In some cases, you may need to encourage them to leave a little bit more since some horses have the instinct to want to return into the burning barn.
In the end, you want to make sure that you stay safe as well. We all want to save every horse, but sometimes that's not always possible. The best we can do is try without hurting ourselves. Make sure you cover your nose and mouth and that you get yourself as far away as possible from the stable before it's too late.
As sad as barn fires are, they are a reality. The best way to handle them is to be prepared and to practice. Keep your stables clean, your hay stored in another building and know how to use a fire extinguisher. All of these small things can help prevent a fire in the first place. If all of that is not enough, remember to stay as calm as possible while evacuating your horses. That way, they'll respond better to what you are telling them to do.
So that's it for this week. Thank you for reading the Pure Horse Sense blog and I wish you all a wonderful weekend. If you ever have any blog post requests, questions or comments you would like to share, please do not hesitate to do so either in the comment section below, through the social media sites or by email. I would love to here from you. Also, don't forget to subscribe to the blog if you have not already so that you never miss out on any of the future posts. If you would like to know about all the different ways you can subscribe, click here.
Until next week, happy riding!