In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, we’re taking a look back at how our 4-H’ers learned to keep their horses safe during a natural disaster.
The 4-H Bits & Boots Club is comprised of horse-loving youth ages 8-18. Throughout the year, youth attend monthly meetings to discuss club business and participate in educational lessons. Last week, the club held their first meeting of the 4-H year. In light of the oncoming storm, the educational topic for this meeting focused on disaster preparedness for their horses. Living in beautiful Florida comes with a risky cost during the months of June through November. Hurricane season is an annual worry that every Floridian faces, especially those owning livestock. With the majority of the club’s members owning horses, Hurricane Ian’s impending landfall weighed heavily on their minds.
Unfortunately, many owners don’t think about disaster preparedness until it is too late. Encountering a natural disaster is something that nobody hopes for, but everyone should be prepared for. To improve their knowledge about disaster preparedness, the youth split into three groups and were each given a different disaster scenario. The scenarios challenged youth with three types of disasters: hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires. The groups were given information about the number of horses they were housing, their farm, and what resources they had available. The groups worked together to come up with a disaster plan.
To help develop this plan, groups were prompted with three questions.
- What should you do?
- What supplies might you bring?
- In the future, how could you better prepare yourself for this disaster?
After developing a plan, each group presented their plans to the club and explained why they made certain decisions (such as to evacuate or stay put). After each presentation, members were allowed to debate the decisions made by their counterparts. When everyone was finished discussing, the 4-H agent presented information on how to appropriately handle their given disasters.
Our youth returned home feeling more confident about what to do with their equine friend in the event of a natural disaster. We are very fortunate that the impacts of Hurricane Ian were minimal compared to those around the state. Our hearts are with those who are facing much more serious situations. We hope that in the event of a natural disaster, our youth will use their newfound knowledge to help themselves, their horses, and those around them.
Do you want to know more about how to protect your horse during a hurricane? Checkout this hurricane checklist here!