Star H Equine Insurance
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The Unthinkable - Fire 

What If The Unthinkable Happens

Horse Barn FireA barn fire. Your horses trapped inside... Summer and their storms have arrived. Hot, dry weather coupled with lightning strikes could leave  you with The Unthinkable happening to you. Did you know, for instance, that static electricity could  catch cobwebs on fire in the barn rafters? Or that abandoned bird nests make excellent kindling?

Barn designs haven’t really changed over the past several decades but that doesn’t mean there aren’t  things you can do to help prevent a fire. If you aren’t sure how well your barn is protected, contact  your local fire station and have them help you devise a plan. In the mean time, here are some  suggestions:

  1. Make sure there are at least two exits from your barn and that they are clearly marked.

  2. Install sprinklers and smoke alarms. Some people also opt for heat and flame detectors. Unfortunately, the lower end smoke alarms won’t work in barns. You’ll need to get in touch with an electrical contractor who specializes in these types of systems.

  3. Check electrical outlets and wiring at least once a year to make sure there are no frayed wiring or broken switch covers.

  4. If your barn is close to a road, make sure to create a fire wall, an area that is devoid of burnable material so that a carelessly tossed cigarette won’t ignite debris and follow it to the barn.

  5. Keep combustible materials such as hay and bedding at least 50 feet away from the barn.

  6. Keep gas powered equipment in another building. If you can’t, at least have a fire door separating equipment storage from the main barn (and keep the door closed).

  7. Maintain appropriate fire extinguishers at each entrance and check them annually to ensure they have proper pressure. A typical 5-pound extinguisher has about 3.9 seconds worth of “stuff” in it so you might want to consider a larger unit or have several extinguishers easily accessible. Turn them upside-down several times a year to keep the chemical loose inside.

  8. Summer fans should have an agricultural rating. Unfortunately, the cheap box fans do not.

Emergency Check ListRemember to keep the aisles clear of tack boxes and hay bales to help firefighters move around. Plus, use latches that can be easily opened with gloves on.

Use reflective tape to mark stall doors so that even in black smoke, the horses can be easily found and lead outside. Put them in a paddock far away from the barn and make sure the gate is securely closed. Horses have been known to return to their stall even in a burning barn.

Lastly, devise an evacuation plan and then implement practice fire drills. See how long it really takes you to get all your horses out to safety. You might be surprised to discover it takes far more time than you imagined.

Here’s a useful link for natural disaster planning, including wildfires, tornadoes and hurricanes. Disaster Preparedness

We hope you find these suggestions helpful. Please have a safe and fire-free summer this year and every year.

* The information provided here is intended to be a brief summary. Please contact Star H Equine Insurance and/or review your policy for more detailed information.

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