Animals Affected by Fire

Advice for livestock, poultry, and horse owners

Your animals are your responsibility. You need to include them in your planning in the event of an emergency. The following information will help you prepare to ensure the welfare of your animals in a fire.

Evacuation plan

  • On extreme fire-risk days and in high-risk areas, leave your property when advised by public safety officials. Delaying could have devastating consequences.
  • Look after yourself, your family, any workers, and your neighbours. 
  • If you have to leave your animals behind, do your best to ensure they’re in a safe place, well away from any fire risk.
  • Make sure emergency services can easily find you. Large reflective numbers should be displayed at the road front of your property.
  • Make sure emergency services have quick and easy access to farm buildings containing animals and a water source, should they need it.
  • Plan alternative escape routes from your property in the event that your main access is blocked, or make sure you have another plan, such as sprinklers and a safer area you can move to.

Securing livestock

  • If you can stay on your property, check all animals are secured and that fences have not been destroyed by fire.
  • Make sure your animals have access to clean feed and water in their new secure space.

Safe shelter

  • If you need to move your animals, ask neighbours if they’re able to secure them on their property. 
  • Safer areas should be away from dense vegetation or forest.       
  • Be aware of the dangers from intense radiant heat - it can kill animals.
  • Safer areas should be fenced, have water supply, short pasture, and protection from radiant heat.

Animal injuries

  • In a fire, animals may panic and flee to escape the smoke and heat, taking out any obstacles in their way. Check your animals, including their hooves/pads/feet/udders for wounds and injuries.
  • While external burns to the skin may be easy to see, your animals could also be suffering from internal burns, particularly to the lungs due to smoke inhalation.
  • On high-risk fire days, remove any flammable gear, such as blankets, harnesses, halters and fly veils, and anything that contains metal. Most horse blankets are a polyester/cotton blend and are flammable.
  • Unlike people, animals tend to hide their pain making it difficult to detect. If you think your animals have sustained internal burns or they look as though they are having difficulty breathing, or have visible burn injuries contact your veterinarian immediately. 

Feed and water

  • If the water is not safe for you to drink, it is not safe for your animals. Make sure all animals have access to clean water.
  • Remove any ash and debris from stock water.
  • Have a plan for secondary feed and water supplies in the event your main water supply or feed is damaged in a fire.
  • Allow enough food and water for at least five days. Most animals need 60ml/kg/24 hours each to sustain hydration levels. Pasture and stored feed may be contaminated by fire.
  • Make sure you have supplemental feed available for your animals. Check irrigation lines to the water trough have not melted in the fire.

Eliminate potential fire risks

  • Damp or incorrectly cured hay can spontaneously combust. Don’t store it next to animals or farm equipment.
  • Protect your assets by keeping flammable materials away from farm buildings.
  • Keep grass away from buildings and lay gravel so there’s nothing to burn. Clean farm buildings to keep cobwebs and dust to a minimum.

Reporting lost animals

  • Identification may be difficult if an animal’s ID tag has been torn off in their attempt to flee the fire.
  • If you find a farm animal and are not sure about ownership, make a stray livestock report to the RCMP.

Useful contacts

For more information about preparing and planning for your animals in a natural disaster emergency, visit our website.

Published date: 
August 16, 2023

General Inquiries

Department of Agriculture
5th Floor, Jones Building
11 Kent Street,
P.O. Box 2000,
Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-4880
Fax: 902-368-4857

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Agriculture Information Desk
1-866-PEI FARM (734-3276)