Emergency Documentation:
What's Visible, What's Hidden,
and Whom to Call

It takes only three steps to complete an emergency document that will help you deal with any type of emergency:

The Farm Map: What You Will See

Mapping the farm sounds complicated, but it can be a simple sketch of the farm layout that identifies the buildings and key points in the surrounding environment. The goal of mapping is to

Drawing a farm map may take you an hour or so, but it is extremely important. Emergency responders may have only a few seconds to determine what they are up against when dealing with a fire, explosion, accident, crime, or biohazard on your farm. Don't make the map too complicated, but do include sensitive areas like creeks, wells, and wetlands.

A concise map can be the most important source of information for first responders. For example, during a recent fire where there was no farm map, the farmer told responders as much as he remembered about what was stored in the building. About 10 minutes after the conversation, an intense explosion occurred inside the barn. The farmer was heard to say, "I forgot there was a 55-gallon drum of used oil right behind that door."

As you develop and analyze your site map, you will better understand what areas of your farm are vulnerable to intruders. It is especially helpful to review your plan with emergency personnel who have experience with these issues. Look at your site map and ask yourself, What would someone want to steal, damage, or contaminate? This will help you decide where to place additional locks, sensors, security lighting, gates, etc.

Developing Your Map

Sketch your farmstead map on plain paper at first; you can draw it to scale on graph paper once you've thought of everything you want to include.

Buildings and Contents:
Where Things Are Stored

In some counties, 911 responders ask farmers to number each building and display the number prominently on each and every door. Cross reference the building numbers (on your farm map) with the common names of the respective buildings. Mark or describe the following with respect to each building and its contents:

Contact Numbers: Whom to Call

Provide a prioritized list of contact names and numbers in case you are away from the farm or incapacitated during an emergency. The first contact should be someone who is familiar with all operations and is authorized to make critical decisions in the event of an emergency.