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April 13, 2009

Evacuation Plans

Do you have any?

Last week Oklahoma suffered many devastating wildfires. Extremely high winds and dry conditions fueled the fires, several in residential areas, resulting in over 100 homes lost. Several communities were evacuated.

Although the fires were not near us, I began thinking about what we would do if we had to evacuate. Hopefully we would have time to move the livestock to safety.

The following are questions we are in the process of answering and addressing. I hope that they will start you thinking about what you would do if you were faced with an emergency requiring evacuation.
WHAT? We have a very old mare with a bad knee that could never outrun a fire; she would be our top priority to move out. Although all of our horses load well, one is hard to catch and I'd probably not be able to evacuate him. I think that sound, healthy horses could outrun a fire better than goats and sheep. Poultry would probably be left to fend for themselves. Paint your phone number on your horses.

HOW? Although we have more than one trailer, we only have one truck set up to tow them, so we've ordered a hitch for the second vehicle. What if only one of the vehicles were home when needed?

WHERE? We have friends with room for livestock. I have their numbers programmed in my cell phone. I would do the same for them - which made me think about where I would house someone else's animals on our place.

WHEN? If you are told by officials to evacuate, you probably won't be allowed time to load and move animals. Make plans early. Do as much as you can beforehand if possible (hitching trailers, catching small animals and crating them, staging important supplies).

Realistically though, you may not have even this much notice. It's a good idea to at least have your personal needs ready to go in what many call a "bug out bag". A change of clothes for each person, important and irreplaceable papers, extra cash, etc can be kept together in a container where it can be snatched up on your way out the door.

NOTES: do you have a halter and lead rope for each horse? A collar and leash for each dog?

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