Preparing to Evacuate Your Farm Safety Measures When Flooding Is Expected

If you live in an area prone to flooding or if flooding has been anticipated for some time, have an emergency plan for evacuation. It should include such considerations as family safety, equipment safety, livestock relocation and temporary milking facilities.

When flooding is hours or minutes away, keep your priorities straight. Ensure family safety first. Be certain you have enough time to get to higher ground before access is cut off. If you have time before receiving an evacuation order, a number of precautions may help you protect your property and livestock.


Take these precautions if flooding is common to your area or anticipated this season:

  • Create an emergency plan of action, considering such things as areas of high ground for animal relocation, temporary milking facilities and approval to use them, equipment relocation and safe pesticide storage.
  • Be sure cattle are properly immunized before being exposed to floodwaters.
  • Arrange or be aware of standby services for emergency milk pick-up.
  • Have a plan for moving grain out of reach of floodwaters.
  • Provide riprap on banks of earthen manure storages where flowing water may erode berms.

If time is available, take the following precautions:

  • Move machinery, feed, grain, pesticides and herbicides to a higher elevation. If you have a two-story barn, the upper level makes a good temporary storage facility.
  • Open gates so livestock can escape high water.
  • If water is rising, try to drive stock through water free of obstructions. Grazing animals swim well, but the greatest problem for them are fences and other obstacles. Long swims through calm water are safer than short swims through a swift current.
  • Leave building doors and windows open at least 2 inches to equalize pressure and help prevent buildings from shifting.
  • If possible, move motors and portable electric equipment to a dry location.
  • Disconnect electric power to all buildings which may be flooded. If in doubt about how to disconnect power, call your utility company.
  • Tie down lumber, logs, irrigation pipes, fuel tanks and other loose equipment or material. Secondary containment is another possibility for fuel tanks, as well as pesticide storage.
  • To keep surface water out of your well, use materials such as heavy plastic and duct tape to seal the well cap and top of the well casing.

Additional resources:

Weather-reporting services, such as the National Weather Service, to predict the severity of flooding; your county agricultural agent; your local emergency government office; the American Red Cross; the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More