Farm emergency preparedness
Disasters such as severe weather, fires, and floods can strike your farm at any time. How well you are prepared and able to handle the situation can make a difference in emergency response and recovery.
Danelle Bickett-Weddle is the associate director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University. She says a good emergency preparedness plan starts by creating a map of your farm site and labeling it, so first responders have an idea of what’s where.
"The things that we want to label it with are what is in that building or that structure? Is that a people building, an animal building, do we have livestock and where? A machinery building, are the pesticides in there? Access routes, how do people normally come in or out," says Bickett-Weddle. "Probably the most important thing you can label – where’s the electrical or natural gas shutoffs?"
Make a farm inventory list of machinery and equipment, livestock, and hazardous substances. Have extra feed for animals, critical phone numbers where you can find them, and emergency supplies on hand.
"Gas-powered generator, and then having gas for that generator. A lot of times we have diesel fuel on-farm, but we might not always have gas for a gas-powered generator. Hand tools, because sometimes you have to cut down branches and just do some basic cleanup," she says. "Do you have fire extinguishers in all your barns, your event buildings and your vehicles? Have you checked them? Does everybody know how to use it?"
Know how you will communicate with family members if you’re in different locations and keep a list of emergency phone numbers including neighborhood contacts. And of course, practice your plans.