Why you need an emergency plan and how to write one
I’ve always considered myself to be fit, healthy and with no need to worry about not being able to look after my family, animals and smallholding. Working on a farm daily with tools, machinery and livestock means you are going to get the odd bump or scrap – I’ve had my fair share of both, it comes with the territory after all!
But have you ever considered what would happen if you suddenly took ill or had a more serious accident, bump or scrap? I think it’s something that crosses our mind, we’ve all had a very near miss then stood back for a minute to pause and thank our luck stars as “That was a close one”! We don’t really think much about the incident after that, just getting on with whatever job we were doing at the time.
No one really likes to think about if the worst happens but, as smallholders we have a huge responsibility to a multitude of different things. Outside of our family and home there is our property, land, livestock, machinery, security of all of the above, the list is endless!
Should (God forbid) anything happen to us - whether that be a health complaint of our own, an accident or an emergency with a loved one, anything could take us away from the care of our holding at any moment.
I recently experienced this and it was thanks to a member of The Good Life Club Facebook group that I ever thought of having an emergency plan in place and I'm so thankful I had it.
Along with our day-to-day responsibilities we also have a responsibility to the person or people that we may have to leave the care of our livestock, home and holding too in an emergency. Imagine how difficult it would be for someone to step into your shoes for an hour never mind potentially days or even weeks - worse still with no instructions on how to look after everything or how to find anything!
That's why it's a really good idea to have an emergency plan ready to put your mind at rest and the person/people that have taken on your roll for as long as necessary.
I devised this plan with my holding in mind and everything I think is important for people to know in my short or prolonged absence. As I have an array of animals some with special requirements, several people that visit or have a reason to be at my holding either as staff, help or other reasons, I found it important to list these people. I would personally feel uncomfortable looking after someone else's property and having people wondering around I don't know or don't know if they should be there.
Your emergency plan should include these details as well as the obvious such as holding number and vet details etc.
Don't for get to update your plan every few months or so, or as required when major changes are made such as adding more livestock or selling current livestock.
We all hope that these plans never have to be used and will just sit gathering dust (except for occasional updates) forever! But it's better to be prepared, we never know what life might throw at us.
I've included below my top tips on making your plan the most effective and valuable, should it ever need to be called upon!
You can also download my complete Emergency Plan template - you just need to fill in and make sure people know you have it ready. Click here to get your free plan along with other free smallholder and homesteader resources.
My top tips for your emergency plan -
- Include a map of your holding even if it's a hand drawn map and number your fields or areas. This will make it easier when listing the location of your animals and where they are and are not allowed to be.
- Make three copies - keep one in your kitchen or most used room in the house, one copy in the most accessible place on your holding (on my holding that's the feed room) and one copy in your family space for example living room, hallway etc and make sure your family know it's there!
- Make people aware you have an emergency plan, (I even told my postman) if no one knows you have one or where it is, it's not going to be any use!
- Take your time and fill in as much detail as possible. Sit and think about your day, add anything you know could be useful or important to know should you be away, even the smallest details such as where you keep your torches could be valuable info.
- Although a lot of the info you are filling in is obvious to you don't take for granted others know. For example, half of my steading has full electricity connected and half doesn't. My outside lights are turned on at the back door etc it's sometimes the small details that are most helpful.
- You can guarantee if somethings going to go wrong it will whilst you are away, so include things like water stop tap location etc.
- Also include things like where water is accessed, where you have taps located and hose pipes. I have several water taps... all in the most un-obvious places!
- It could be important that your livestock records are accessed such as passports, tags, medicine book etc so, include this info too.
- Details of your holding’s security may put someone’s mind at rest - you don't need to give all the details just that you do have CCTV in operation.
- It may even be useful to mention which gates must be kept closed at all times.
- Some details about any feisty animals, ones that cooperate but don't like to be handled etc. The safety of your holding’s guardian needs to be considered also.