Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Emergency Preparedness

We need rain. It's that simple. A combination of a mild (and dry) winter, higher than normal temperatures and lower than average precipitation has turned Alberta into a giant tinderbox.

Currently there are two wild fires burning out of control that are threatening homes. The big one in Fort McMurray has already consumed over 10,000 hectares (almost 40 square miles!), 1600 buildings  and is still not under control. Fort McMurray is a remote community in northern Alberta and it's remoteness is making it very challenging to evacuate.

This fire has forced people to make tough choices. Horses have been set free as it was their best chance of survival with the conditions and timing. Horse Nation did an article on it. The city is still unsafe so most people have no news on their animals.

An image of a girl riding one horse and ponying two others has gone viral. Word is that she and her horses are safe now. But it really underscores how terrifying an critical the situation is.
Image borrowed from FB, no photo credit given to pass along

Evacuation plans are not only for areas that are threatened by the big natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes etc). Before this I did not have a specific plan in place in case of an emergency. I know better. I work in the oil field, where safety is paramount and we have plans and drills for all manner of incidents.

You can bet that I will be developing and implementing an emergency plan for us and all our critters. Everyone thinks these are things that happen somewhere else. This has been my wakeup call for sure.

Do you have an emergency evacuation plan? If so, how do you make sure it is accurate and functional?


  1. Fire is definitely a risk in our area, which means I'm very picky about where I board my horses and how that risk is managed. Because we can't count on rain (ever), we have a lot of irrigated land. This cuts way back on risks in populated/well farmed areas but the desert outliers are definitely in jeopardy and evacuations do happen.

    Thoughts and prayers with the affected people.

  2. Honestly, here, we don't have much for an exit strategy. We're trapped on what is essentially a large island with one main road running the length of it. We've always got our earthquake kit ready, but last years wildfire was a wake up call and I kept a "go bag" in my truck with essentials for me and the horses in case the evacuations spread to us. It lives in a bucket and doubles as an "essentials" bucket for away shows too and contains horse and human first aid, emergency meds, flashlight, spare ropes/halters, tarp, etc. Crossing my fingers hard for more rain for everyone, and soon!

    1. I can't imagine living on the island during an emergency.

  3. This is terrifying. I have lived in areas that are prone to forrest fires, but I am currently in an area more prone to hurricanes and tornadoes. Hurricanes freak me out, but the barn has weathered a few. Quite a few of the girls have tags that they can braid into their horses manes with contact information (name address phone number).

  4. Our issue around here is the exact opposite: floods. When hurricanes come around, our local big show facility offers up stalls for people to use. Most people have sturdy enough barns, but if you're close to the water or in an area that doesn't drain well, people are pretty nice about letting others take refuge. We've got quite a big horse scene for my area, but everyone knows everyone, and we all look out for each other.

  5. So terrifying. I get goosebumps looking at those photos and tears in my eyes <3

    Thankfully here, we aren't at a huge risk of forest fires - it's much wetter where I live but of course, you just never know.

  6. Keeping good thoughts about everyone involved. I live in the farm area where everything stays pretty lush so I'm not too worried

  7. So scary :( the only time there was a fire at our barn, I had just put Carlos down so I had no cares in the world, which is kind of sad, but I was also really emotionally numb then.

  8. I have been following the news of the fires in Alberta very closely, and have been considering my emergency plans as well.

    I actually have experienced an evacuation at my current barn due to fire. It was a fire with toxic fumes so had added dangers. In that case, we evacuated the horses to a rented pasture a few miles away. Having my own truck and trailer that I keep mostly hooked up and at the barn is a big part of my emergency plan for my horse. I can have Kachina loaded and ready to leave in less than half an hour from me leaving my house. I also keep some hay, a spare halter, water buckets etc. in my trailer tack room.

    What I need to do is repack an emergency bag in my house for human evacuation. I had the needed stuff mostly together in my old apartment but it's currently spread around the new house so would take valuable time to gather.

  9. Horrifying :( I can't even imagine, that type of risk is so alien to the mid Atlantic region. Stay safe!!

  10. Fire this time, but a few years ago it was flooding in the southern end of the province. Emergencies and natural disasters come in many shapes and forms. In July I will be taking my Disaster Planning certification through Equi-Health Canada and will be able to teach and help people assess and make a viable plan for an emergency situation.
    So many of these horse owners are friends of mine. Many of the horses I know myself. I've spent a good amount of time between Clearwater and Tower Road horse clubs and it's terrifying what they've experienced. I can not imagine living through it myself. Good news though, 14 horses have been found and are being transported to Lac La Biche and have already received veterinary attention. The Edmonton Garrison is ready to accept displaced horses and I am on call to assist in first aid and identification of horses on location. We all do what we can.
    Everyone, hug your ponies, families, fur babies, a little closer tonight! Stay safe <3