FIRE! Are you prepared?

You may have seen reports in the press recently about horses being lost in fires. The thought of losing a horse this way is horrific - but it is essential that you look at your stabling arrangements and work out how you could rescue your horse, should a fire break out.

These are some of the points you should consider:

* What available escape routes are there? Is there more than one possibility?
* Are these escape routes ever locked? If so why? Can you ensure that all potential escape routes are accessible at all times?
* If you can get your horse out of the building is there somewhere safe where he can go?
* What fire fighting equipment do you have in your stables? Does all the equipment work and is it all regularly checked? If you do not have anything do something about it now, before it is too late.
* Does everyone who comes into your stables/barn know what to do if a fire breaks out? If not, make sure they do. Have regular trial exercises - your horse's life could depend on any one of your livery friends. Ensure there are signs pointing out the location of extinguishers, ensure there are signs highlighting exits, ensure that the fire drill is clearly written down and that everyone is very familiar with it.
* Think about the layout of your yard. Is there anything you could change which would make it safer? For instance, where are your bedding and hay supplies stored? Could they be a potential fire hazard? The answer to this in many cases is probably yes! What can you do right now to make things safer?
* Faulty electrics can cause fires - get your electrics checked regularly by a suitably qualified person.
* Review your situation now, make any changes now and hopefully you will never have to face the horror of losing a horse in a fire.

Many thanks to visitor Margaret Carr who emailed us, asking us to include the following points in our fire article:

* The yard should clearly display 'No Smoking' signs.
* There are different types of fire extinguisher to use depending on the fire eg fires caused by faulty electrics would be worse if water was applied. You therefore need to know which type of extinguisher is stored where within your yard.
* There should be a clear fire drill and a designated assembly point.
* You need to have a plan to deal with a terrified horse that won't leave its stable eg can you use headcollars to lead them out or do they need to be chased out. (If anyone has had the unfortunate experience of dealing with this kind of situation it would be really helpful if you could share your advice and thoughts).
* There should be a notice giving the grid reference, address etc so the person ringing the fire brigade can give accurate details.