Cover the Basics

This publication will help you develop a farm emergency plan that includes a farm map, a building contents list, and contact numbers for use in emergency situations. It presents strategies to protect your assets and lower your risk of falling victim to vandals, extremists, and terrorists. Attacks on your farmstead may seem unlikely, but you have to be prepared today more than ever before. Relatively simple changes or updates on your part can make the difference between

There may be many ways to improve safety and security of your farm. Glean from these pages those ideas that are applicable to-and make the most sense in-your particular situation. Before taking action, ask a professional law enforcement officer to help assess your security issues. Ask your insurance agent to walk your farm and assess your risk potential; then ask her to review your coverage and incorporate whatever changes are necessary to address your needs.

Crime and Pollution
Insurance Coverage

Do you have insurance coverage that protects against theft, vandalism, pesticide spills, and/or terrorist attacks on your farm? If you don't know, find out now. Don't wait until you have a claim and be shocked to find that your coverage is limited or nonexistent. You need to know, now, what would happen if

Your policy may or may not cover all of the above circumstances; or it may cover some or all of them, with exclusions. Some policies contain clauses that specify no coverage or reduced coverage under specific circumstances. For example, if you run a farrowing operation for which electricity is essential, your insurance company may require you to have generators in place to keep the operation up and running and the pigs alive during an extended power outage. Also, some policies state a specific time frame during which you must report a loss-and beyond which the insurance carrier is under no obligation to pay the claim. Be sure that you understand your own responsibility to prevent or report a loss.

Make an appointment with your insurance agent to review your coverage. It is important to discuss specific descriptions, exclusions, and amendments. If you have high-value crops or animals, make sure that your policy covers them above and beyond fair market value. Ask if enhancing or installing security measures would lower your insurance premium.

Get everything in writing because there is no such thing as verbal confirmation. Insurance agents are human. They may unintentionally misinterpret the way a company writes your policy; or they may misunderstand your inquiry, leaving you with inadequate coverage or none whatsoever.

Review all notices and amendments that you receive from your insurance company. It is easy to lay them aside to read later, but do you always get around to it? A premium increase is the most common change that your insurance company will make, but other changes might be more discreet. For instance, your premium may remain the same-so there's no red flag-but the notice that you don't read may be to inform you that a portion of your coverage is being decreased or canceled!

County Emergency Address

It is disturbing that some mailbox addresses are partially or totally missing, that some are too small to read, and that others cannot be read in the dark.

Most Indiana counties have assigned emergency 911 addresses. The address should be boldly displayed in 3-inch reflective numerals on both sides of rural mailboxes. Standard mailbox-post signs can be purchased from some local volunteer fire departments, the local emergency management office, or a local retailer.

Emergency Information Mailbox

A permanently installed, well hidden mailbox can serve as an emergency information box. It should contain

Your emergency information box will be very important to first responders if an emergency situation occurs on your farm, but only you and the authorities should know where it is. Have the location entered into the computer database at your local 911 dispatch center, and personally inform your local fi re and police chiefs. This places responsibility on department heads rather than officers or firefi hters who may or may not be among those responding to your particular situation. It is a good idea to keep copies of all materials stored in the information box at a second site on the premises: the farmhouse, a farm office, or an outbuilding.

Pesticides in One Location

The storage of pesticides and other farm chemicals is of major concern to emergency responders, and the number one thing that you can do to help them is centralize your chemical inventory. Store everything in one building and mark it clearly on your farm map so that responders can tell exactly where your chemicals are stored. After you've made an application, always put leftover pesticides back where they belong. No exceptions.

Pesticides should be stored in an isolated building that is secured against theft and acts of vandalism and terrorism. Fire-resistant (e.g., concrete block) construction is preferable. Dispatchers should have your chemical storage location and your farm emergency response plan on file and readily available to police, fire, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel. Centralized storage also allows you and firefighters the option of letting the building burn (versus putting water on it) to minimize contamination of adjacent areas.

Emergency Responders' Tour

A visit to the farm by local responders is good training for everyone. Invite fire department, law enforcement, and EMS personnel to visit your farm and identify the unique challenges it poses. Show them the locations of the following:

The more emergency response personnel who participate in your farm review, the greater the chances that one of them will be the first responder if you actually suffer an emergency. Encourage firefighters to write an emergency "pre-plan" for your farmstead since they are often the first to arrive.

Responders who take the tour may offer valuable suggestions for enhancing your farmstead safety and security. As one responder recently said, "I just go away with a good feeling. I know the place better and the individuals know me better, which makes them more willing to call for help in the event of an emergency."