If you think about it, a barn is the perfect place for a fire to start. Most barns are filled with dust and cobwebs. Hay is usually stacked in a loft or a spare stall. Electric fans whir in the summer. One spark, from a cigarette or a faulty electrical appliance, could set the whole place ablaze!
That’s why it’s important to think about fire prevention at all times. Here are some tips to help you to keep your barn flame-free.
Don’t let anyone smoke in or around your barn. A cigarette butt tossed on the ground or in a trashcan can become a roaring fire in minutes. Put up no smoking signs around the barn.
Every few weeks, grab a broom and sweep down cobwebs. Turn the hose on them if you want.
A fire extinguisher
Buy a five-pound ABC (all class) dry chemical fire extinguisher and place it where people can find it quickly. Fire extinguishers have expiration dates so check it at least twice a year to make sure it is still in working condition. Replace fire extinguishers every year.
Stack hay properly
When you stack hay, place the bottom bales on pallets so air can circulate underneath them. This prevents the hay from getting moldy or wet. Don’t stack hay too tightly. Air must circulate between bales to prevent damp hay.
Did you know that damp hay may spontaneously combust? When the internal temperature of hay rises above 130 degrees Fahrenheit, a chemical reaction begins to produce flammable gas that could ignite! Just another reason to never buy damp or moldy hay!
Large piles of manure may also spontaneously combust so keep the poop pile far away from the barn area.
Cover electrical outlets
Cover electrical outlets so dust doesn’t get in the outlet and cause a fire. You can buy covers at hardware stores and ask mom or dad to install them.
If you’re building a new barn, place outlets and light switches where horses can’t chew on them. Never put outlets or switches inside a stall.
If there’s a light bulb in your horse’s stall, invest in a wire cage to protect the bulb from your horse’s head or hooves if he rears. Take a soft brush and sweep cobwebs off light bulbs once in a while.
If you use fans in the summer, make sure the electrical cords are out of "chewing distance.”
Remove flammable substances
Keep flammable substances like poisons, kerosene, gasoline, paint thinners, fertilizers and pesticides in a separate building or shed if possible. One spark can set these liquids alight!
Never run a heater unless you are in the barn. If you forget about a heater and leave, it could overheat and cause sparks that could result in a fire. The same goes for water heaters that you put in buckets to warm things like bran mashes. If you forget about them, they can burn through rubber and cause a fire.
A portable heater must never be used in the barn area, only in tack or feed rooms. It shouldn’t be used near horses because a horse could knock it over.
There should be a water faucet somewhere in the barn and a hose should be kept handy in case you need to fight a fire.
Tractors & trucks
If possible, store tractors and cars away from the barn. When you turn on the engine of a tractor or car, sparks may come out of the exhaust pipes. These sparks could cause a cobweb or a bale of hay to catch on fire.
Keep halters and lead ropes handy so you can grab them easily if a fire starts. You need to be able to get your horse out of the barn quickly. Teach all of your horses how to lead with just a rope over their neck. This skill may come in handy during a fire.