Source: mountainviewgazette.ca (Alberta, Canada)
- BY KEVIN VINK
- Tuesday, Feb 04, 2014 06:00 am
Homeowners are often reminded to have a plan for emergencies, from food and water storage to an escape route in case of a fire.
But rural residents and farmers can’t simply leave with only their loved ones and important documents, as many have livestock and many other important things they have to protect.
Brad Andres, emergency program manager for Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, said that preplanning for emergencies is essential to farm and rural life.
“Part of what we found looking at the natural disasters – floods, fires, disease outbreaks and pest outbreaks – is that a lot of damage can be prevented by farmers and farms taking some of the early steps to prepare themselves,” said Andres.
By thinking ahead and creating plans for a specific operation, farmers and landowners can hopefully prevent – or at least minimize – losses to their livelihood.
There always needs to be an escape plan for family members, and important documents should be stored in an easy-to-access location in case of a fire, but he said livestock farmers should also have a plan to get their animals to safety.
And every landowner should have a plan based on the layout of their particular property, he added.
“There’s no way to move 1,000 cows quickly. If you’ve got a grass fire coming at you, you need to have a plan in your head already on what you’re going to do to protect your operation, your house and your buildings, because it’s not going away,” he said.
The first step is to know what risks a particular operation has.
“And that really does depend on where your farm is, what the land is like. It really comes down to what are the risks around you. My parents’ farm has a natural gas pipeline that runs right alongside it. So for them they should think about whether the gas company knows their number,” he said.
In that case, there should be a plan to evacuate in case there’s a leak or explosion related to the pipeline.
Weather, fires, and even train tracks are all variables to consider when forming a plan, he added.
Even if animals aren’t in danger, he asked whether farmers are prepared in the case they are ordered to evacuate and their animals are left untended for a week or more.
He urged people to simply play out all the various possibilities that could affect them to ensure that they will be as prepared as possible for any sort of disaster.
“And be realistic about what could happen. Is a tornado going to touch down in Peace Country? Possibly. But statistically, that’s one of the low-risk areas. If I was living there I might not worry about it that much,” he said.
“If I lived up on the ridge above the North Saskatchewan River, would I be worried about flooding? Holy cow, if the river is leaving the valley, we’ve got bigger problems to worry about. Be practical about the risks that affect you, and be honest about the things that you can do something about.”
Day-to-day emergencies should also be considered, so even something as simple as a few fire extinguishers scattered throughout shops and other buildings is a good idea.
“All kinds of little accidents happen. Is my fuel and chemical storage properly done? If you haul your own animals, are you prepared for an accident, and do you know what you’re going to do if you have one?” he said.
Train track location and dangerous goods routes, as well as possible diseases that can affect livestock and crops are also possible situations to consider.
“And then the big natural disasters: floods, fires. I don’t know if I would call the heavy snow lately a natural disaster, but on the day-to-day emergency side it’s something to consider,” he said.
“It comes down to the operation and what kind of land you have nearby. That’s why having a general plan that everybody uses doesn’t make much sense. Each operation is so unique in its numbers, its layout and its alternates for sites, that it’s something every farmer has to do for themselves.”
Read the rest of the article at the mountainviewgazette.ca