Disaster Preparedness for Horse Owners

Article by Dr. Jenifer Nadeau, UConn Equine Extension Specialist

horse looking out from red barn
Sean Flynn/UConn Photo

When it comes to disasters, a lot of us think about wildfires. However, we also picture catastrophic flooding. Flooding is the most common type of natural disaster. About 40% of all natural disasters worldwide involve flooding. According to National Flood Insurance, in a 30-year mortgage, a home has a 26% chance of being damaged by flood versus a 9% chance of being damaged by fire. Flooding is a year-round threat. River flooding is the most common type of flood in the United States. Flash flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths per year, causing approximately 200 human deaths per year and an unknown number of horse-related deaths or injuries. The leading cause of death in large animals during Hurricane Andrew in 1992 included animals killed in collapsed barns, electrocution, kidney failure secondary to dehydration and animals hit and killed on roadways or tangled in barbed wire after escaping from their pasture. Hurricanes, tornadoes, snowmelt, and thunderstorms all contribute to flooding.

Disaster preparedness involves reflecting on hazards that threaten your family’s safety and that of your animals and developing a plan on how to prepare for these hazards. There are four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Mitigation is preventing future emergencies or minimizing their effects. Preparedness is preparing to handle an emergency. Response is responding safely to an emergency. Recovery is recuperating after an emergency.

The foundation of emergency management is personal responsibilities. That is the familiarity with the potential for disaster in your community and the creation of your own emergency plan to care for your animals. The next step is local government responsibilities that include emergency response planning, response, and assessment to protect your community. You can think here of the text messages that notify you of the hazards present in your community such as a severe thunderstorm or your local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). State government responsibilities include protection from statewide disasters, provision of financial assistance to underfunded communities, and review of local emergency plans. The Statewide Animal Response Teams (SART) are an example of this. Federal government responsibilities are at the top of the pyramid and include protection from and declaration of national disasters, provision of financial assistance if needed and coordination of disasters through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Flooding results when heavy or continuous rainfall exceeds the absorptive capacity of the soil and the flow capacity of rivers, streams, and coastal areas causing the  watercourse to overflow its banks onto adjacent lands​. There are two types of floods – slow rising floods and fast rising floods. Slow rising floods move down a river or stream and can be predicted to reach a certain height. Fast rising foods are flash floods that usually result due to extreme heavy rain, melting snow, dam failure or levy failure, and occur suddenly.

Things to consider in the short term are:

  • You may not have much time to react, so you need to have a plan in place.
  • You should have a disaster kit on hand in case of emergency.
  • You should know how you will evacuate your horse and have a trailer ready or one you can borrow if needed.
  • You should have a way to identify your horse in case you get separated.

Here is what you should have in your disaster kit:

  • Feed – at least a week’s supply in airtight, waterproof container, rotate feed every three months
  • Extra feeding bucket for each horse
  • One week of water for each horse, you can use 50-gallonbarrels, store in a cool, dark location
  • Extra water bucket for each horse
  • One week’s supply of shavings/straw
  • Extra pitchfork
  • Extra wheelbarrow/muck bucket
  • First aid kit
  • Grooming supplies including shampoo, sweat scraper, etc.
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Sterile gauze sponges and pads
  • Two to four disposable diapers or wrapped sanitary napkins
  • Bandages – Ace, 2 ½” gauze bandage roll, leg bandages
  • Adhesive tape – 1” and 2” rolls
  • Two to four quilted or padded wraps
  • Household scissors and/or knife
  • Tweezers
  • Ice bags or chemical ice pack
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Veterinary or human rectal thermometer
  • Lubricant
  • Stethoscope

As mentioned, you should also have ways to identify your horse and there are several options. Use a livestock crayon to write your name, phone number and address on the horse​. Use clippers to shave your name, address, phone number into the horse’s coat​. Braid an identification tag with your name, address, and phone number into your horse’s mane​. Have at least 10 recent photos of your horse including some with you in it – keep them in sealable plastic baggies in your disaster kit with other important documents, medications, and insurance papers. Keep a copy of the Bill of Sale for your horse or other documentation that can prove ownership with your disaster supplies​. Have your horse microchipped​, branded​, or tattooed​.

There are also some long-term considerations. You need to know what you will do if you cannot return to your home/property and have a place that you can stay for a while until you can return to your home/property. You should have a way of identifying your animals in case you need to set them free (worst case scenario) or reclaim them from a shelter. You should write on a piece of paper the name, address, and phone number of your regular veterinarian, and keep it with your other important documents for your horse since you may not have access to a cell phone or charger. Locate a mobile equine veterinarian you can use in event of a disaster if you don’t already have one in case your horse is too injured to be moved for treatment​. Write out a release form authorizing another party to give medical treatment for your injured or sick horse and keep it on file with your regular vet and an alternate vet. Give a copy to your neighbor or whomever will take of your horse if you are away​.

By being prepared for a disaster, you will keep your horse and yourself safe and hopefully save money as well on any bills that may arise from serious issues. I hope that you have fun with your horse this summer. Stay safe! Please call (860) 486-4471 or email if you have any questions. Also, visit my web site for more information on upcoming horse specialist events and other information. Thanks, and have fun with your horses!

Sources and Resources

  1. National Flood Insurance. Nationwide Flood Facts: Learn About Flooding in Every Region. Accessed 6/2/23.
  2. Disaster Planning for Horse Farms.
  3. Federal Emergency Management Agency
  4. FEMA Independent Study Courses

Flooding Resources

Updated on July 24, 2023

Many of our communities are affected by the statewide flooding from the Connecticut River after heavy rains in New York and Vermont. Flooding conditions continued after more rain arrived. UConn Extension has the following resources to support agricultural producers, consumers, residents, and others affected. You can also sign up for mobile weather alerts by visiting and CT Alerts. Anyone in a Disaster area can use the disaster recovery resources.

Ask a Question

UConn Extension provides answers you can trust. Our educators can also connect with agricultural producers, residents, and businesses individually. Ask us a question.

Agricultural Producers

Agricultural lands in central and northwestern Connecticut have flooded. The examples below are courtesy of farms along the Connecticut River.

Soil and Water Testing

Soil testing can help determine the extent of damage and any soil remediation needed. Visit our soil lab online for more information.

Water testing is also advised in some situations. Visit our website for more resources on how to get water tested in Connecticut.

State and Federal Reporting

In an effort to better understand the scope of the situation, we are asking producers to share estimated losses with us through our online reporting tool. This data will be shared with USDA Farm Service Agency and UConn Extension. By filling out this information it will assist these entities in determining if a disaster declaration can be obtained. Your farm name and contact information is not required, but if you would like to be contacted, please share that.

If you have not done so, please also contact your local Farm Service Agency county office to report your damages as well as your insurance agent to report impacts for covered crops. USDA disaster assistance information can be found on, including USDA resources specifically for producers impacted by flooding. For FSA programs eligibility, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center.

Food Safety

UConn Extension is part of the Produce Safety Alliance, and there are guidelines for flooded farms. We also recommend reviewing our farm worker training video series (y en Español) as the principles will help guide farm recovery after a flood.


Equine owners also need to be cognizant of disaster preparation, especially floods, and we have specific recommendations for these situations as well as on preparing for equine disasters.


Our team offers the following advice on extreme flooding:

Recommendations include: avoid areas with extreme flooding, as little as six inches of water can cause problems, do not drive through flooded water, check weather forecasts, and sign up for mobile alerts.

Flooding and erosion also cause issues on beach properties. Our Sea Grant program has a checklist for coastal hazards.

There are emergency preparedness resources for all residents available at our Adapt CT program. Coastal homeowners and businesses can also use resources specifically made for their situation.

Food Safety

Flooding sometimes impacts homes and gardens too. We have the following resources to help in those situations:

Soil and Water Testing

Soil testing can help determine the extent of damage and any soil remediation needed. Visit our soil lab online for more information.

Water testing is also advised in some situations. Visit our website for more resources on how to get water tested in Connecticut.


We have programs to help municipalities with stormwater and flooding, including the MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems) and the Adapt CT program for climate adaptation, including flooding in coastal and other communities. There are also fact sheets available:

Governmental Resources

Many state and national organizations have programs and resources that can help with extreme flooding:

Resources from Other Extension Systems

From the National Healthy Homes Project

Putting People First is the focus so they will protect their health during the cleanup and restoration process.

Thanks to the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) and Enterprise Community Partners, A Field Guide for Flooded Home Cleanup (also available in Spanish) has received a makeover. The widely-used guide was first developed nearly 15 years ago to teach safe mold removal practices in hurricane-damaged homes.

In addition, NCHH has a free online training course to educate homeowners and contractors in mold removal safety.

The Rebuild Healthy Homes Guide was developed to help homeowners, volunteers, and other workers to restore damaged homes in a way that puts people first. It includes how-to methods, tips, and improvement ideas for safe restoration that result in not just a livable dwelling, but a healthy home that offers even more than before.

Snow Removal Tips

Photo and Article: West Virginia Extension

1360166144Stay safe from slips and strains by following these recommendations for safe and effective snow removal.

  • Shovel all sidewalks adjacent to your property to the bare pavement. This includes any sidewalks outside your fence lines and to the sides/rear of your property.
  • Clear a path at least 36 inches wide. This allows space wide enough for someone using wheelchair, walker or stroller.
  • Strategically pile snow. Don’t create new problems in the street or sidewalk when clearing your car or driveway.
  • Clear ramps at corners and crosswalks. These strategic spots are particularly dangerous and often overlooked.
  • Chop or melt all ice. Ice is the primary cause of falls; it’s not enough to simply remove the snow.
  • Keep street storm drains clear of snow and report clogged drains. The snow will melt, and effective drainage protects streets from icing over and developing potholes.
  • Clear snow around any fire hydrants near your house. Seconds count when a fire occurs and it’s critical for firefighters to find and access hydrants.
  • Shovel frequently. Don’t wait until the snow piles up. Shovel intermittently – after two (2) inches of snow has fallen – to maintain safe conditions and prevent injury when clearing snow and ice.

Be neighborly. Consider helping those who may have difficulty clearing their own sidewalks.

Important health and safety reminders when clearing snow and ice:

  • Stretch during and after working outside. Gently stretch your back, arms and legs to help prevent injury and muscle strain.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothes frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Cover your mouth. Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors.
  • Wear shoes with good soles. Falling is the most common injury when removing snow and ice.
  • Wear shoes with a good cleat tread and layers of absorbing socks.
  • Separate your hands on the shovel. By creating space between your hands, you can increase your leverage on the shovel.
  • Lift with your legs, not your back. Make sure your knees are bending and straightening to lift the shovel instead of leaning forward and straightening with the back.
  • Push the snow. It is easier and better for your back to push the snow rather than lift it. Never throw snow over your shoulders.
  • Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unfamiliar exercise, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
  • Stay safe. Walk carefully on snowy and icy sidewalks. If using a snowblower, NEVER use your hands to unclog the machine.
  • Maintain an awareness of utilities when removing snow. Do not cover fire hydrants with snow when clearing sidewalks and driveways. Do not shovel snow into the street storm drains.


Offer to help individuals who may require special assistance. Seniors and people with disabilities can benefit from a thoughtful neighbor, and they often need extra help during snowy conditions.

CT, NY Sea Grants to Create Plan for LIS Debris Reduction

scallop shells on a Connecticut beachAbandoned boats, broken lobster traps, discarded tires and all types of other trash aren’t just eyesores on Long Island Sound’s beaches, coves and channels.

They’re also hazards to wildlife that can impede navigation and threaten human safety and health. To address this problem, Connecticut and New York Sea Grant programs will initiate a Marine Debris Action Plan for Long Island Sound. The project will gather groups involved in removal and prevention work as the basis for to develop a comprehensive strategy to rid the Sound of as much debris as possible.

The Marine Debris Action Plan for Long Island Sound is one of eight projects awarded funding through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant-Marine Debris Special Projects Competition. A total of $350,000 was awarded for the eight projects, which will be matched by $350,000 from the state programs. The CT-NY project will receive $50,000 in federal funding which will be matched with $53,000 from the two programs. The two Sea Grant programs will develop the plan in cooperation with the EPA Long Island Sound Study, a bi-state cooperative partnership of state and federal agencies, and numerous user groups and organizations concerned about the estuary shared by New York and Connecticut. The NOAA Marine Debris Program coordinators for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions will be active participants, sharing insights and experiences from other similar efforts.

Read more:


New Guidance on Essential Employee Safety

New Guidance from State on Essential Employee Safety

man carrying bag of corn off of a trailerJust released guidance from State of Connecticut on health recommendations for essential employees. In addition to already widely available social distancing and sanitary recommendations, highlights are as follows:

  • Control and monitor external visitors on work site
  • Discourage carpooling
  • Increase physical space between employees and customers (drive throughs, plexiglass partitions at check out, etc.)
  • Deliver products curbside or provide home delivery
  • Spread out multiple shifts/schedules or increase number of shifts to promote social distancing
  • Stagger meal & break times, adjust start/stop times to minimize congregating at time clock or break areas
  • Provide time between shifts and/or prior to shift to allow for sanitizing of work environment and tools
  • Increase ventilation and percentage of outdoor air in indoor work areas
  • Where possible segment work area into zones to discourage staff from entering areas unnecessarily
  • Provide disposable disinfecting wipes for commonly used surfaces (doorknobs, keyboards, etc.)
  • Prohibit sharing of tools where possible
  • Shared tools and equipment should be cleaned and disinfected before and after use
  • If an employee is suspected sick or confirmed to have COVID-19, follow CDC cleaning and disinfection guidelines
  • Employees with no access to soap and water should have access to hand sanitizer

Read the recommendations in their entirety CT Guidance on Essential Employee Safety

Dealing with Storm Damaged Trees

By Tom Worthley, UConn Extension


tree down across road in Brookfield, Connecticut on May 15, 2018
Tree down in Brookfield, Connecticut on May 15, 2018. Photo: Jeremy Petro

On May 15, 2018, late in the afternoon, a striking example of one of those “severe weather events” we see quite often these days passed through my neighborhood in Higganum. Severe winds, downpours, lightning and thunder all were part of a wicked and deadly storm that ripped limbs from and uprooted trees, downed powerlines and damaged buildings and vehicles in other parts of the state. Images on TV news and social media of damage and cleanup efforts have been striking.

For my part, because of the sudden and severe nature of the winds, and the near-continuous display of lightning, I was as nervous I ever remember being about a storm event and the potential for damage to my humble little house from trees and limbs. Sure enough, one large limb, from the top of a large red oak, did get ripped off and came down about 20 feet from where I park my car. There is, of course, a mess of smaller twigs and branches as well. No real property damage, thank goodness, but it was close. The storm was over a quick as it began, and now, just like many folks around the state, I’m faced with a clean-up task. It’s not a real problem for me; that broken limb is at the edge of the woods and will make a nice neat little pile of firewood.

For many people, however, the task of cleaning up storm-damaged trees is not so straightforward and simple. Many damaged trees are huge and are left in precarious, unstable positions. Storm-damaged trees are fraught with abundant problems, dangers, and risks. Cutting, cleaning up and salvaging downed, partially down or damaged trees is one of the most dangerous and risky activities an individual can undertake.

In viewing the news reports, photos and social media posts I have been shocked and horrified by the personal risks that people are taking to cut up downed trees in cleanup efforts. Pictures of men operating chain saws in shorts and t-shirts, climbing downed tree limbs (and standing on them!) to cut them, working with no personal protective equipment, etc. – it can all be quite distressing for a person familiar with the potential danger. No professional arborist or logger I know does chain saw work without personal protective equipment – and these are the experts!

It cannot be emphasized enough that without personal skill and a thorough knowledge of equipment capabilities, safety procedures and methods for dealing with physically stressed trees, an individual should never undertake this type of work on their own. The very characteristics that make the wood from trees a great structural material can turn leaning, hanging or down trees into dangerous “booby-traps” that spring, snap, and move in mysterious ways when people try to cut them. They can cause serious and life threatening injuries. Just because your neighbor or relative owns a chain saw, it doesn’t make them qualified to tackle a large tree that is uprooted or broken. Contacting a Licensed Arborist, or Certified Forest Practitioner with the right equipment, training, and insurance, is the best alternative for addressing the cleanup and salvage of storm damaged trees, and avoiding potential injury, death, liability and financial loss.

That said, there are a few things a homeowner can do about trees that are damaged and/or causing other damage around a home site:

  • First, from a safe distance note the location of any and all downed utility lines. Always assume that downed wires are charged and do not approach them. Notify the utility company of the situation and do nothing further until they have cleared the area.
  • Don’t forget to LOOK UP! While you may be fascinated with examining a downed limb, there may be another one hanging up above by a splinter, ready to drop at any time.
  • Once you are confident that no electrocution or other physical danger exists, you can visually survey the scene and perhaps document it with written descriptions and photographs. This will be particularly helpful if a property insurance claim is to be filed. Proving auto or structure damage after a downed tree has been removed is easier if a photo record has been made.
  • Take steps to flag off the area or otherwise warn people that potential danger exists.
  • Remember that even if a downed tree or limb appears stable, it is subject to many unnatural stresses and tensions. If you are not familiar with these conditions, do not attempt to cut the tree or limb yourself. Cutting even small branches can cause pieces to release tension by springing back, or cause weight and balance to shift unexpectedly with the potential for serious injury. Call a professional for assistance.
  • Under no circumstances, even in the least potentially dangerous situation, ever operate, or allow anyone on your property to operate a chainsaw without thorough knowledge of safe procedures and proper safety equipment, including, at the minimum, hardhat, leg chaps, eye and hearing protection, steel-toe boots and gloves.

An assessment of the damage to individual trees, or more widespread damage in a forest setting is best undertaken by an individual with professional expertise. Homeowners should contact an Arborist to examine trees in yards or near to structures, roads or power lines. A Certified Forester is qualified to evaluate damage in the forest to trees and stands and advise landowners about the suitability of salvage or cleanup operations. The CT-DEEP Forestry Division can provide information about contacting a Certified Forester or Licensed Arborist. Check the DEEP Website,

or call 860-424-3630. Listings of Licensed Arborists can also be found at the CT Tree Protective Association web site,

While a nice tidy pile of firewood from a tree that was damaged in a storm might be the silver lining, it is not worth the risk of injury to yourself or someone else when tackling a very dangerous task without the proper knowledge, equipment or preparation.

Healthy Homes News

healthy homes partnership logo

The Healthy Homes Partnership is a national effort to provide information on how to keep your home safe and healthy. A healthy home supports the health and safety of the people who live there. Research indicates that there is a relationship between your health and the health of your home. CT Healthy Homes Partnership team leader Mary Ellen Welch coordinates workshops on healthy homes principles to inform groups about how to improve indoor air quality and reduce allergens and contaminants in the home, home cleaning strategies and maintaining a dry, safe, well ventilated, pest free, and thermally controlled home. She also identifies social media messages to be posted on partnership social media for awareness days, weeks and months, seasonal messages, and those that relate to current events, such as water conservation strategies during drought or winter safety tips.

Find us on Social Media! 

Facebook: HealthyHomesPartnership; Twitter: @HealthyHomes4; Pinterest: healthyhomes4

Extension Healthy Homes Website: 

8 Principles of a Healthy Home in American Sign Language: 

Everyone Deserves a Safe and Healthy Home: 

Education on Healthy Homes is provided to community groups and businesses as well.

If your group is interested in a presentation, please contact Mary Ellen Welch at