What to do if your barn collapses
This winter has already dumped enough snow for two winter seasons. And unfortunately, the list of barn collapses keeps growing. No one wants to deal with a barn collapse, but it’s important to give horses and other animals the best chance of survival.
Be prepared just in case
Rebecca Gimenez, PhD, president of and primary instructor for Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue encourages owners to handle their horses as much as possible and desensitize them to new or scary things.
“Anything you can do to have that horse calm, cool, and collected will help them to not struggle (in an emergency),” Gimenez said. “If they’ve been well handled, when they hear a human voice they might think, ‘oh, my mom’s coming for me’ rather than panicking.”
Gimenez also suggested leaving horses in a leather or breakaway halter when they’re in their stall. Most emergency responders don’t know how to halter a horse, so having a halter on will save time if they need to be evacuated quickly.
After the barn collapse
* First, call 911. Emergency responders are trained to handle difficult and dangerous situations, and their experience will help the rescue go smoothly.
* Find out how many humans and horses were in the barn when it collapsed.
* If you’re trapped inside a barn, don’t try to get out on your own in case you compromise the structure and it collapses further.
* Call a veterinarian. Emergency responders can handle structural collapses, but usually don’t know how to handle horses or treat them for injuries.
* Call for reinforcement. Once they’re evacuated, the horses will need feed, blankets and a place to go. Getting in touch with friends as soon as you can will allow more time for them to take action.
* Check on the horses that might be trapped inside. When horses are scared they’ll try to escape through any space that seems large enough. Use tarps to cover any large holes in the barn structure.
Wait until emergency responders arrive to remove horses from the barn. If you try to take them out you could cause the structure to collapse further, possible injuring or killing other horses inside. Instead, tend to the horses that are already outside of the barn and catch any horses that have gotten loose.