Spring is tornado season in many parts of the country. But spring brings a host of other potential challenges for farmers and ranchers – hurricanes, floods, higher volumes of chemicals on hand and other types of hazards are common this time of year.
At Nationwide Agribusiness, we are passionate about emergency preparedness. Why? Because every day, we help customers deal with accidents, crises and disasters. We see firsthand the effects of these incidents on farm owners, their families, employees, customers, bottom lines and often on their futures.
“Over 100 years, we have learned that most accidents are preventable; that when disasters happen, damage can be minimized in many cases; and that advanced preparation is not just smart, but directly affects a farm’s or ranch’s profitability and long-term growth,” says Terrance Williams, president and COO, Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance Company, Des Moines, Iowa.
We recommend you prepare for tornadoes, hurricanes, floods or other natural disasters by having an active, up-to-date emergency action plan, Williams adds. “In an emergency, it can provide a clear path through the chaos as well as save precious time when minutes count.”
Here are tips for what to include in your farm or ranch emergency action plan. The best idea of all: Keep it simple!
Basic elements of an emergency action plan
- Document emergency escape routes and procedures for each building on your property.
- Identify procedures to be followed by the people who remain to handle critical operations before they evacuate.
- Document procedures to account for all people and employees after an emergency evacuation.
- List who will be responsible for and how they will report fire and other emergencies.
- Develop and maintain a list of all people connected with your farm or ranch who should be contacted in an emergency, listing names and all pertinent contact information. This can include owners, family members, employees, employee family members, suppliers and anyone else who is on your farm or ranch on a regular basis.
- Develop and maintain a list of emergency contacts – local law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical responders, gas and electric providers, hospitals and insurance companies.
- Include a map of your farm or ranch with all buildings (and contents) designated.
- Have contingency plans for where you’ll house livestock if barns or dairy parlors are damaged or destroyed.
- Designate a location for offsite storage of important documents and records.
More ways to be prepared for an emergency
Keep both your farm and emergency contact lists in several locations – in your home, your office, your glove compartment, with all family members, any key employees and in additional buildings as appropriate. The key is to always have them close at hand.
Establish an inventory system. Know exactly what’s on your farm or ranch at all times.
Preplan salvage operations and include a method of debris disposal. Be aware of what materials the landfill nearest your farm or ranch will accept and establish alternatives if needed. Follow any specific procedures for disposal of chemicals or other hazardous materials to meet EPA requirements.
Williams concludes, “As farmers know all too well: Mother Nature is unpredictable. But being prepared with an emergency action plan is a great investment in helping preserve what farmers and ranchers have worked so hard to build.”