Brandi Ebner, IOM, director of the Oregon Horse Council:
• Always be prepared. Any part of Oregon could have an emergency — from wildfire to flood! Know your routes out of your home and have a few places in mind that you can go. People who only think of on evacuation point may be in trouble if that location fills up or is inaccessible due to conditions. If you do not own a truck/trailer, have a plan worked out with neighbors who do. Or if you work away from your home, make sure neighbors have permission to evacuate your animals for you (and make sure they know where your TO GO supplies are) and you know where they plan to take them in case lines of communication are cut off.
• Have your TO GO items easily reachable and ready. Feed and water for a minimum of 3 days, leads and halters, buckets, first aid kit, registration papers, vaccination records, any medication they might be on, etc.
• Practice evacuation. Especially people with horses, train them to load in the trailer in stressful circumstances. With livestock, get them trained to your best ability to be loaded. My own know the sound of grain and will come running into the barn if I shake a little in a bucket. That will make it much easier to get them into the trailer if we needed to evacuate quickly.
• Do not wait to evacuate with horses or livestock! Things may not go as planned and will be more stressful in the emergency situation. As soon as you are in evacuation level 1, start evacuating. We have seen this week that you can go from level 1 to 3 in no time, do not wait until roads are clogged and the danger is eminent.
• The very last option, which we hope never is needed, is to set your horses free. This is the absolute worst case scenario and should only be used if there is literally no other choice (and this should never be your evacuation plan). Make sure to get them out of their stall, barn, or pasture and shut all gates and fences behind them – horses and other livestock will go back to the area they feel most safe, which can mean running into a burning building! Take off all tack, this can get caught on things and melt to them. Either shave or paint your phone number on them, or braid a temporary ID tag into their mane. There are some affordable options on the market for bracelet or neck bands that you can use. Using a sharpie to write on their hooves can easily come off, so it is not the best option.
• Take good quality photos of your animals so that you can properly identify them and share if you get separated from them.
Planning for disasters from the American Veterinary Medical Association Evacuation tips
• Assemble an evacuation kit.
• Develop an evacuation plan for all of your animals and practice the plan.
• Keep written directions to your home near your telephone. This will help you and others explain to emergency responders exactly how to get to your home.
• Identify alternative sources of food and water.
• Have well-maintained backup generators and a source of fuel for use in food-animal production operations.
• Keep vehicles well maintained and full of gas.
• Keep emergency cash on hand. (Remember: ATMs may not work.)