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Disaster Planning Guidelines

Guidelines for Disaster Preparedness

The first step is to develop a written "Disaster Plan." A written Disaster Plan will help you and your animals survive.

You may want to consider evacuating horses if they are maintained in stables or in pastures of less than one acre as this will not allow sufficient area for them to avoid debris and collapsing buildings.

Do not try to evacuate with your livestock trailer unless there is sufficient time. If you cannot be on the road 72 hours before the storm is due to hit, traffic and high winds may prevent a successful evacuation. A livestock trailer is very unstable in high winds. Evacuating your animals may be too dangerous, so make plans now to move your animals to a safer area ... preferably an area near your home.

Your Disaster Plan

Develop a Specific Disaster Plan for your rural / agricultural property. Start with the farthest point of your property, listing all the things that need to be done to prepare for an emergency. Consider the following when you write your Disaster Plan:

  • Install a hand pump on your well. It's a wise investment, as your well water will not become contaminated unless sub merged by floodwaters.
  • Use native plants for landscaping, as these plants are more weather resistant and less likely to uproot and become debris.
  • Secure or remove anything that could potentially become debris. Use mobile home tie-downs for your livestock trailers and other vehicles. Move vehicles, trailers, equipment, etc., into the middle of the largest open areas and tie down.
  • Have on hand a box packed with halters, leads, tape, ropes, tarps, plastic, fly spray, medications, etc. Keep in a secure location.
  • Have plastic neckbands with permanent markings and metal ID plates on halters to put on animals for identification. All animals should be haltered before the storm.
  • Fill any large, outside vessels (row boat, feed trough, dumpster, etc.) with water. This not only keeps the vessels from becoming debris, but it also provides a source of water for the animals. Pool water and collected water should be kept chlorinated for purification.
  • Chain / tie down all propane tanks and label them "propane". Label all hazardous material containers.
  • City water will become contaminated when purification systems are inoperable. Add several drops of chlorine bleach per quart and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Gather chain saw, ladder, axe, shovel, pry bar, come-along, metal cable, block & tackle, wire cutters, tool box, grill-charcoal-lighter fluid, etc. and keep in secure area.
  • A two-week supply of animal food and medications should be kept in waterproof containers and stored in a secure area.
  • Close barn and stall doors. Open all interior pasture gates. Put ID on all interior pasture gates. Put ID on all your animals and turn large animals out. They may sustain injuring from flying debris, but a least they have a greater chance of survival.
  • Review and update your disaster plan with your family on a regular basis. Keep friends and relatives informed of your plans.

Large Animals

  • The safest place for large animals to weather a storm is in a large pasture.
  • The pasture should be free of exotic trees, barbed wire, and overhead power lines.
  • Is well away from areas that might generate wind-driven debris.
  • Has both low areas for shelter and high areas which are safe from flooding.

Guidelines for Fencing

  • Woven wire is the clear winner. It acts like a volley ball net, in many cases falling trees don't take it down, it stops debris, it doesn't full apart in high winds, and animals are less likely to get caught or tangled in it.
  • Traditional board fencing blows down and becomes deadly debris. If used, back it with woven wire.
  • Avoid using barbed wire - it severely cuts animals and is easily torn down by debris.
  • Lay out your fence lines away from power lines.
  • Every year, prior to Hurricane Season (June 1st), replace / repair damaged fences and fence posts to ensure strength and safety.

Guidelines for Building Construction

A well build barn keeps it from becoming debris, but never safe enough to protect your animals. A simple, well strapped metal roof or a hurricane reinforced concrete barn is least likely to blow down. Prefab trusses may not hold up. If used, make sure they are braced properly.

Roofing construction should be metal or roll roofing. shingles and tile become small lethal weapons. Large sheets of anything are more easily avoided by large animals. Consider some form of hurricane shutters for all glass windows and doors.

Emergency Planning for Large Animals

Before and Emergency

        1. Keep animal's records (Coggins test reports, etc.) with your critical records, if you plan to evacuate. Take pictures of your animals for identification.
        2. Make sure your animal has a halter with your name, address and phone number - preferably with a metal ID plate. Also mark all belongings.
        3. Keep two weeks of food and hay. Store food in waterproof containers.
        4. Keep a supply of your animal's medications and a well-stocked first aid kit (including bandages and fly (bug) spray - lots of it).
        5. Keep a halter, lead rope, and other routinely used tack handy.
        6. Make arrangements with someone, a boarding stable, or a farmer outside the evacuation area to take your animals to in an emergency.
        7. Store water for one week (use plastic containers and be sure to rotate stocks every few months to ensure freshness). Also consider keeping a supply of bleach for purifying water if necessary.
        8. Get mobile home tie-downs for your livestock trailer.

Note: Planning to move animals to a safer location in the area is usually better than trying to evacuate them. Make arrangements to move your animals to a safe area in your county in an emergency.
Note: If you must evacuate, plan to evacuate early (before the populace is ordered to leave) in order to minimize the time your animals must be in transit.
Note: While developing your Evacuation Plan keep in mind that Farm / Agricultural animals are not permitted at evacuation shelters.

During a Warning Period

        1. Call your prearranged temporary shelter to make reservations for your pet. Do this as early as possible, as shelter space will fill up fast.
        2. Inventory all the above to ensure you have all required items.
        3. Do not leave your animals inside the barn. They are better off outside - loose. Even though injuries from blowing debris can be serious, a collapsed bard would allow the animals no chance to save themselves.
        4. Be prepared for animal behavior to change, even being defensive or aggressive.
        5. THINK DEBRIS. Take down and secure everything you can. Turn over and tie down picnic tables, etc.