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University of Minnesota Extension

Preparing for a barn disaster

Prevent emergencies from becoming disasters. Whether it’s a fire, tornado or flood, having a plan can prevent or reduce the impacts of these events. Prepare for events around your house and your barn as well.

When building new structures or remodeling old ones, think about emergency preparation in the design of your barn and other facilities.

Barn designs should include

  • Multiple exits
  • Use of curtains or firewalls
  • Fire-resistant materials
  • Good ventilation
  • Hay storage separate from animal housing
  • Easy access to water
  • Quarantine areas
  • Located out of flood plain and other wet areas
  • Facility and ground cleanliness

General preparation

Consider what events may be the most devastating for your barn. Planning for these events will help prepare you for other events. For example, you can use a fire evacuation plan for tornadoes and floods.


Preparing for fire


Prepare for severe weather

Severe weather is beyond your control. In Minnesota, severe weather can include tornadoes, lightning, floods, droughts and blizzards.

Be weather aware

Sign up for free weather notifications. Staying informed allows you the best chance to prepare as needed.

Put your safety first

If severe weather is near, take cover. Only try and move animals if you are not at personal risk. Moving stressed animals can be hard and may put you in harm’s way.


Medical issues

Have emergency contact information and first aid kits accessible in the barn.


Authors: Krishona Martinson, Extension equine specialist; Kris Hiney, Oklahoma State University Extension; Betsy Gilkerson Wieland and John Shutske

Reviewed in 2022

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