After A Disaster
The First Steps To Recovery
Let Others Know I Am OK
Getting contact out to say I am OK is important for relatives and friends who will be worried. I keep charged back up batteries for the phone, torch and other devices.
After a major disaster, lots of people will come onto my property to do a range of jobs, like check I am OK, check the structural integrity of the house, to look for asbsestos or other tasks which are aimed at keeping the community safe.
I will keep a look out for advice to keep my horses safe e.g. I need to remember that floodwater is not freshwater, it's toxic! All wet feed has to be thrown out (not dried out), water troughs scrubbed and refilled.
Check My Horses And Property
I put on strong boots and protective type clothing to look over the property. I checked fence lines, cleaned out and refilled water troughs, and inspected outbuildings.
I took lots of photos for records and insurance.
I reported missing animals, and arranged veterinary attendance for any injured animals. SAVEM can also assist with catching and treating injured wildlife.
Hardest of all, will arranging for burial of animals.
Check On Neighbours
After looking over my property, I went over to the neighbours and made sure they were OK.
Once the immediate house area and surrounds were checked, we went to look for missing horses and livestock as they may have wandered onto the road or become trapped in a creek.
I use my networks to see if other horse owners and their animals are OK.
We have a local community Facebook group we started, something like the Murray Bridge & Surrounds Bushfire Group for horse owners.
Know Top Tips For Helping Horses To Recover
I am confident with equine first aid, but also try to keep informed, communicating with my regularly with my veterinarian and attending educational events.
Bushfire Survival Tips for Horse Owners with Penny Kazla
Lessons learned from an Australian Bushfire Dr Elizabeth Herbert (slide show with voice-over)
Management of large animals through bushfires
Dr. James Meyer
Triage of horses- Pinery Fire
Dr. Lidwein Verdegaal
How to get my horse through bushfire injuries
Dr. Erik Noschka
Victorian Bushfires (audio) Slideshare
Dr. Chris Heislers
Pinery Fires Horses (6 mths after)
Dr. Robin van den Boom
No Fences, No Grass... Activate Plan 'B'
I have prepared myself for the fact that even though we may stay and defend for fire, flood or storm- the property may not be fit for keeping horses safely for quite some time.
I have already made the decision where to send horses outside of our geographic area while the property can recover, or have arranged for strong portable yards to be delivered at short notice.
Tree roots can burn for several weeks underground, I would like to avoid a horse putting a leg through to one of these. It will take quite some time to ensure that the paddocks are safe and the ground cool enough, or if flood waters have been through, to check for rubbish and wait for pooled dirty (toxic) water to disperse.
It's OK To Ask For Help
I have tried to think about what it will take to recover from a disaster, but I know it could all become overwhelming.
Especially when recovery moves from months into years. I know I could:
Feel numb and detached
Can't plan ahead
Constantly be tearful
Have trouble sleeping
Have head spins – “What if I had done x, y or z, instead?”
My horses will help with my recovery, they are important to me.
I can help neighbours or friends out, the Red Cross has a guide here, and just by keeping in touch that's a great way to help