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July 15, 2014

Fire Safety Tips For Horse Barns

by DePaolo Equine Concepts

Today is National Pet Fire Safety Day and sadly domestic animals are lost in fires each year.  Some of these tragedies are avoidable with preventative measures.  Here are a few tips and ideas to keep your barn prepared:

  • Keep cobwebs to a minimum.  Spiderwebs are highly flammable so making sure they do not collect on ceilings or in corners is a must.
  • Make sure all stall doors open easily and without ‘tricks’ so anyone can open them to help horses out in a hurry.
  • Perform regular electrical checks.  Wires may become damaged or exposed from rodents without being noticed.  Improper wiring is a major hazzard in barns and stables.
  • It is best to store hay in a separate hay barn if possible because it is highly flammable.  Also, damp hay can spontaneously combust so always make sure that your shipment of hay is dry at the center of the bales.
  • Make sure water heaters and stall lights are functioning properly and used correctly.  Never let a water heater go dry.
  • House fire alarms are not suitable for stable or barn use.  You must have an industrial version that can manage high dust areas without compromising their efficiency.  The alarm should also be wired to signal the caretaker’s house since at night inside a house, you might not hear a regular fire alarm.
  • Have fire extinguishers easily located throughout the barn in several locations that are well marked and maintained frequently.  It is recommended to have them every 20-30 feet.
  • Put special ‘fire halters’ in one location, one halter and lead rope for every horse in the barn.  It is also a good idea to cut the chin strap off the halters so they can easily be slipped over the horse’s head and remained buckled.  This will help the process of evacuating horses easily.
  • Keep grass and shrubs trimmed short around or near the barns and paddocks.
  • Make sure all barn aisles, even ones not in regular use, are free of clutter.  Store muck buckets, wheelbarrows, pitch forks, tools etc. in sheds or empty stalls.  Never leave them in walkways or barn aisles.

You can invite your local fire department out for a tour.   They can inspect the location and give you tips on items that might be fire hazards.  It will also allow them to become familiar with your property, animals, roads and general location.  Hopefully you will not have to experience a barn fire but it is never totally avoidable.  Being aware and prepared are the first steps to insure that all people and animals escape without injury.

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