Preventing and preparing for barn fires—part 2

Have you ever thought about how you can prevent a fire in your barn? You should! Get prepared!

Have you ever considered what you would do if you had a barn fire? Michigan State University Extension recommends preparing yourself, your animals and all of the random “stuff” that you have in your barn in case of a fire. What could you have done to prevent a fire? The thought of a fire is very scary! After a “too close for comfort” experience in my own barn, I began considering these questions seriously and decided to take action to do everything possible to prevent that thought from becoming a reality and to be prepared if it does happen.

As mentioned in the part 1 of this series by MSU Extension, the National Fire Protection Association reported that from 2006 to 2010, there were approximately 830 structure fires per year in barns that were reported to municipal fire departments. These fires were responsible for over $28 million in property damage. The leading causes of barn fires are heating equipment, such as heat lamps, electrical and lighting equipment, and spontaneous combustion or chemical reactions.

This article will focus on what you can do to prepare for a barn fire. According to the University of Kentucky “Preventing Barn Fire: Tips for Horse Owners” there are some good places to start as you prepare your plan so you are ready if a fire does occur.

You must mentally prepare yourself so that you can act calmly and safely in the case of a fire. Remember that human safety is the top priority! Ensure your own safety and the safety of others before taking care of animals.

First, identify and designate a safe place for your animals to go if you can get them out of the barn safely. It is important to make sure that this location is away from the fire and allows fire crews enough room to do their jobs.

Second, make sure that handling equipment such as halters and leads are quickly accessible. Consider the materials that these items are made of. Remember, plastic and nylon will melt in heat.

Third, talk about the plan with members of your family and any employees you might have so that they can also be prepared in an emergency.

Lastly, mark gates, pens or stalls with reflective tape or glow-in-the dark paint. This will make it easier to see where you are going in the dark.

If you are removing animals, start closest to the exit first and handle animals one at a time or by groups if they are herd animals. Maintain control of the animals at all times to help reduce their stress, which can prevent other injury risks.

Remember that human safety comes first! If there is a fire, call 911 and get people out of the barn. Only get animals out if you can do so without risking human safety. Follow the directions from the fire department or 911 dispatcher.

No one ever wants to think about the risk of a fire, but it is best to be properly prepared.

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