How to Create an Emergency Action Plan for Your Farm
Unexpected emergencies and disasters — from severe weather to equipment accidents — can strike anywhere and anytime. No matter the size of your operation, an emergency action plan can help you stay ahead of disasters and may protect your farm or ranch and those who work on your property. There’s a lot to think about when planning — family members, employees, emergency response times, safe locations and more. Let’s start with the basics of emergency planning.
What Is an Emergency Action Plan?
An emergency action plan is a road map for how to address a broad range of emergency situations or disasters you could face on the farm or ranch. A comprehensive plan will identify key people and their responsibilities, exit routes, handling procedures and emergency contacts.
Creating a plan can seem daunting, but having an emergency action plan in place can save lives and help minimize the impact of the disaster.
What Should Be Included in a Farm Emergency Plan?
Your plan can vary based on the specific needs of your farm or ranch. In general, farm plans should include emergency escape procedures and routes, a system for accounting for people, a designated meeting place and information for emergency contacts. As you devise your emergency action plan, you’ll want to be sure you have a good way of receiving emergency alerts and warnings. Including a map of your farm or ranch with numbers over different structures and buildings is a good idea. A complete map should include all buildings and structures as well as access routes to your farmstead and land. Access routes include roads, lanes and driveways. Be sure to map out all fences and gates, all livestock locations, hazardous substances and utility shut-offs.
Although you may know where everything is, it helps to have it all written down in case someone else needs this information. Having everything mapped out allows you to see the opportunities and challenges when making your plan. Once you have your map in place, you will have two types of emergencies to plan for: one for sheltering in place and another for evacuation.
Creating an Evacuation Plan
- Refer to your map to determine escape routes for people and animals alike. Identify which gates will need to be opened and what to do in case an identified route is blocked. Don’t forget to consider where your hazardous materials are stored when creating these routes.
- Anything that is potentially explosive should be stored as far away from animals as possible. Determine where you will move them to in case of fire.
- Make a plan for your people. Where should they evacuate to? Make sure these details are made clear so that everyone working on the farm stays safe.
Creating a Shelter-in-Place Plan
- Think through what you will do if resources are shut off. Do you have a backup source of power and/or fuel?
- Determine what actions will need to be taken and who will need to be contacted in the case of blocked access routes.
- Build and maintain a farm safety kit, which should include an emergency contact card and basic supplies like bandages, wraps, sterile eye wash, instant cold packs, antibiotic ointment and adhesive medical tape.
Create an Emergency Contact List
- Include phone numbers for your vet, local emergency management and insurance agent. Write these out with pen and paper — don’t rely on your phone’s contact book.
- List all of the businesses that supply services to or for your farm.
- Include your milk processor, feed and fuel delivery and anyone else who is on the farm regularly and should be alerted after something happens on the farm.
Farm Plans: Communication Is Key
Everyone on your farm, from family members to employees, should be involved in the planning process, and the plans should be easily accessible. Written emergency action plans should be posted in visible areas your workers can access quickly. Also contact your local emergency services like the sheriff, fire department and ambulance service to help you think through what they would need in any of these situations to make sure you are properly prepared.
Coverage for the Unexpected
You can’t predict when an emergency or a disaster will strike. Risk management can help keep you and those who run your operation safe. Talk to your local Farm Bureau agent to learn how our Farm and Ranch insurance can help protect your property and equipment.
Article first published by Farm Bureau Financial Services on April 20, 2023.
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