- Are your lights and electrical systems up to code? When rehabbing an older barn, make sure there are no fire hazards and that any problem areas are dealt with. “Maybe a certain light still works, but is not up to code. Some of the older lights, panel boxes and electrical systems are not up to code. Is there enough amperage and is it good enough to do what you need it to do?” says Dr. Bob Coleman (State Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky).
- Limit flammable material and consider storing hay away from horses. Try to minimize storing anything flammable in the barn. “If you are renovating or making changes, if you plan on storing hay in there, how much will there be? How much hay to you really need to store? If you put it over the top of the horses, in many cases your insurance company will question that.” If there is very much hay in the barn, you may not be able to get fire insurance.
[Read more: Renovating an Older Barn]
[Read more: Stall Improvements and Safety Issues]
- Make sure lightning prevention is up to date and that your barn has a reliable, easily accessible water source. Make sure lightning prevention is up to date on your barn. It may also be important to have a water source in the barn for an emergency, and a hose you can get to and utilize. “And if you are pumping out of a well, where is the well house? How do you get water to the barn? Is there a ready source of water if necessary?” he asks.
- Know where your fire extinguishers are and ensure they’re functional. “Also figure out where to put fire extinguishers. Maybe have a visit with your fire department and have them show you what to buy and how to use it. You need to have your fire extinguisher up to date. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean it will work if you need it. If it is really old you need to get it recharged or get new ones,” he says.
- Install smoke detectors. “It may be wise to install smoke detectors and heat detectors when you redo your barn. Talk to your insurance company and find out if this would be important. And if you store hay and bedding, they’d like it to be 200 feet away from the barn.”
- Keep your barn clean. It is also important to keep your barn clean. “Have a plan for periodic cleaning. Dust is not only a poor environment for horses, but can also be a fire hazard. Take the horses out of the barn every now and then and thoroughly clean the barn; a leaf-blower can be very useful for this, but don’t do it with the horses in the barn. Get a dust mop and leaf blower and clean it all out,” he says.