Glynis Snowden on Emergency Preparedness

As I watched the news reports of the Southern California wildfires last fall, remember asking myself “What would I do if I was in the middle of that?” Although there are many reports and articles written about emergency preparedness, they are all too easy to ignore. “That will never happen to me” … “I will worry about that later” … “I am too busy now” these are the things we tell ourselves to put off the task of being prepared if disaster strikes. Unfortunately, “later” can be too late.

Glynis Snowden of Gly-Rae Stables recently published her story about surviving the San Diego, CA wild fires on the AMHA website. Intrigued by her strength and perseverance, I called to ask her about how she prepared for the fires and what she experienced.

Glynis and her husband had been home from the Grand Nationals in Oklahoma City, OK for only 3 days before she got the call to evacuate her farm. They had 60 horses on the farm that needed to be relocated. As she discussed in her AMHA website story, she had the foresight to have an evacuation plan and supplies already prepared at the start of “fire season”.

Many – even most – people cannot think clearly when confronted with an emergency. Because of this, Glynis highly recommends preparing a “Check List” of steps to follow, as well as having all mandatory equipment, supplies and information all in one place.

It is important to have a notebook containing a list of all the neighbors and area farms that are available to help transport or house horses in the event of a fire. Glynis recommends that at the beginning of a “disaster season” you, as a potential evacuee, should go through the list carefully. Check with each person to make sure they are still willing to help and verify that you have an updated telephone/cell phone number. When faced with an emergency, call down this list to determine who is available to help. Because telephone service can be cut off without warning, be sure to plan a time for helpers to arrive when you reach them. This keeps you from becoming stranded with no help.

Glynnis keeps two large trunks that are always stocked with evacuation supplies. Some items to include are: A halter and lead rope for EVERY horse on the farm (in addition to the everyday halters that hang on the stall doors), plastic “cattle tags” with name, cell phone number, and vet’s number on each halter (two, if possible, in case one falls off), duct tape and markers (in case the tags can’t be found or something needs to be labeled), a medicine box containing things such as bandages, an IM sedative, bute and antibiotics. Glynis feels that having some sort of easily administered sedative is very important due to horses “freaking out” during an emergency. She heard about a horse that, as the fire approached, became overly frightened. The horse ended up injuring itself so severely that it had to be put down before it could be evacuated.

In addition to packing an evacuation kit, Glynis also had other recommendations. Consider microchipping all animals on the farm, if possible, and have extra readers packed with the emergency supplies. Training young horses to load on a trailer is also very important. Glynis told me that horses died in the San Diego fire because they wouldn’t load, and the owner’s were forced to leave them behind in order to save themselves and the other animals on the farm. In addition to basic supplies that are normally kept on a horse trailer, Glynis also recommends keeping a 5-gallon container of water on each trailer as an emergency water source.

Moving 60 horses from a farm is not easy task and I asked Glynis how they fed them once they were at their destination. She explained to me that because they had so many to move, they were not able to take much hay or grain. The private farms were able to supply the feed but other areas, such as the Del Mar Fairgrounds (which had 7500 stalls filled) and the Del Mar Show Park (which had 1500 extra horses on the grounds) did not have a supply available. Glynis had to drive her truck through hurricane force winds to Los Angeles, where a feed dealer donated grain for the evacuees. Hay was very scarce but she said they “made do” with what they could find. Because the local water supply was not affected, they thankfully didn’t have to worry about dehydration.

Glynis, her husband, and all their animals were evacuated from their farm for a total of 10 days. As she relayed in her Connection story, her house and barn were miraculously spared. Overall, the horses faired well during the ordeal, although some colicked due to stress and some developed a harsh cough from the poor air quality during the firestorm. Glynis is currently getting their house in order and repairing it from smoke damage.

Because she had the opportunity to talk with many people who had lost so much in the fires she gave me one last piece of advice. Loose photographs and albums were the one thing that most people regretted not having enough time to save. To keep your memories safe, she suggested having them all stored in one big trunk. With them all in one place you only have to grab one thing on the way out instead of trying to remember where they are all stored.

I really appreciated Glynis taking time out of her busy schedule to talk with me. Hearing about her ordeal and how she was able to endure the wild fires by being prepared made me again consider how I would handle a disaster situation and if I would be adequately prepared. Thankfully, my biggest problem to date has been a frozen water line to my barn. However, I’m now working on my own disaster plan for my farm!

One Response to Glynis Snowden on Emergency Preparedness

  1. paige says:

    I wanted to say, I was at the AMHA convention in Minneapolis. Dr Heather Case DVM is the AVMA National Coordinator of disaster preparedness and responce. She gave the most wonderful seminar on the subject. Dr. Case is also a Morgan horse owner. If anyone is intersested in the subject they can get info at http://www.avma.org

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