Emergencies and disasters such as barn fires, blizzards or floods are common risks in agricultural communities across Alberta. Being prepared will help you protect your farm animals, livestock and property so you can overcome unexpected situations as quickly as possible.
Know the risks
Identifying the hazards helps you prepare and reduce the impact when sudden events do occur.
Hazards vary depending on where you live, but can include:
- overland flooding from nearby creeks, rivers, canals and lakes
- out of control fires in nearby grasslands, forests, and farm structures such as barns
- severe storms such as extreme wind, tornadoes, heavy rain and blizzards
- hazardous waste spills and the release of dangerous goods
- diseases and/or pests that affect animals and crops
Make a plan
A well thought-out plan can help you respond effectively, protect your animals and property and help you cope with the stress of the emergency or disaster.
When building your plan consider the following:
- Build a map. Outline the buildings on the property and include key services (power and water sources), access points, equipment locations, and dangerous chemical storage. Post your map in each building.
- Set a meeting place or muster point in case an evacuation is ordered. Make sure everyone knows the locations and ensure that there is feed, water and shelter for any animals you can evacuate. Consider seasonal weather impacts.
- Create safe transportation methods. If possible, practice loading and transporting your animals.
- Ensure animals are visually identified (for example, ear tags, tattoos) whenever possible. Create a file with all animal identification and ownership records.
- Create an emergency contact list. Include neighbours, animal handlers/transporters, veterinarians and feed suppliers. Post in each building.
- Store all records (animal ID, contact lists and site map) onsite, offsite and digitally.
- Work with your local Director of Emergency Management to learn what type of help will be available.
Traceability Protects! By registering your livestock and poultry with Alberta Agriculture’s Traceability program you are helping local authorities with protecting your animals during an emergency. Register online at: agriculture.alberta.ca/premises.
Know when to stay or go
For your safety, authorities may direct you to shelter in place or evacuate. It is important to follow all directions and to stay informed as the situation and directions can change quickly.
Shelter in place with animals
Shelter in place orders can last a few hours or a few days. If time permits and depending on the situation, you should confine animals to a shelter or leave them to pasture.
Keep in mind, if animals are confined to one shelter, aggressive behaviour and outbreak of contagious diseases is a risk.
Evacuating with animals
Animal evacuation requires additional time and the right equipment, for example, corrals, shoots and trailers. If ordered to evacuate, you may only have minutes to gather your belongings. Have a plan and ensure the necessary equipment is prepared so you are ready to evacuate safely and quickly.
If time permits:
- Haul feed and water to the evacuation location if it isn’t already there.
- Consider the need for shelter. Extreme cold and heat can be harmful for animals.
- Ensure animals are marked with a visual identifier, in case they get loose.
Evacuating without animals
There may be situations where an evacuation is sudden. If this occurs:
- Ensure animals have a visual identifier. Use a semi-permanent livestock marker to put your cell number or a unique mark on their bodies.
- Leave a minimum of 72 hours of feed and water that does not need power to function (for example, electric waterers).
- Open gates or reroute fencing to create a large area for unrestricted movement and help avoid hazards.
- Keep barn doors closed to prevent animals from going back inside where they can be trapped.
- Connect with your emergency contacts about care and feeding for the animals.
- Ensure handling equipment and tools are readily available for first responders to free animals if they become trapped.
Build a kit
Emergencies and disasters can last a few hours, or a few days. It is a good idea to keep enough supplies on hand to last a minimum of 14 days. Store your supplies together in an easy to access place.
Household emergency supplies
- water – drinking, cooking and hygiene)
- food – non-perishable with high protein
- battery-powered or crank radio and flashlight or Weatheradio in case of a power outage
- documents, identification and cash
- personal supplies and medication
Animal emergency supplies
- feed and water that does not require power
- first aid kit and supplements
- list of medications, veterinarian records, animal identification, health and sale records and proof of ownership
- handling equipment, for example: ropes, cages, halters, warm bedding and fence cutters
Recovering from a disaster is difficult. The Government of Alberta makes it easier by providing financial assistance through a conditional grant program after emergencies and disasters that cause uninsurable loss and damage.
Visit Disaster assistance and recovery support for more information.
- Speak to an insurance agent about your specific needs.
- Know your insurance policy. Make sure your home, vehicle, business and belongings are protected.
- If possible, consider an emergency savings account to cover temporary expenses while you are out of your home.
- If you can, keep emergency cash handy in case banking services are unavailable.
- If you are evacuated, keep all receipts for additional expenses.
- Prepare a detailed list (PDF, 212 KB) of all your belongings.
- Know the 7 steps for making a home insurance claim.
Staying informed during emergencies can save your life. Protect yourself and your loved ones by downloading the Alberta Emergency Alert app to receive critical, life-saving alerts.
You can also find out more information by contacting your community directly to find out where they post updated information during emergencies.
Check with your community to learn how to help others during severe weather events. If you’re concerned for someone’s safety, call:
- 211 if someone is in distress or in an unsafe place
- 911 if they’re unconscious or need medical help