The recent flooding in the western Corn Belt has brought about some heartbreaking stories and images. Sometimes, Mother Nature just wins no matter what. Whether it be weather concerns, damage from fire, or breaches of security, do you have a disaster plan for your farm?

In recent years, Dr. Fred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs, and others collaborated to author and publish a booklet entitled, “Rural Security Planning — Protecting Family, Friends and Farm.” I will glean some highlights from the publication for this article.

Before taking steps on safety and security measures, you might want to ask a professional law enforcement officer to help assess your security issues. Also get your insurance agent involved — how can you assess and reduce risk?

You may start security planning by asking yourself, “What needs to be protected?” Security threats to farms and farm operations vary from those who would perpetrate theft to those who intend harm. Then consider the three Ls: Lock, Light and Limit access — in that sequence. Livestock producers should be concerned about biosecurity and steps that can be taken to limit access and protect livestock.

Following are some basic aspects of a farm emergency plan.

Do you have an emergency information mailbox? This mailbox should contain a farm emergency plan that includes a farm map, a building contents list and contact numbers for use in emergency situations. Material Safety Data Sheets can be included for chemicals. Only you and the local authorities should know the location of the clearly marked, but discretely placed, mailbox. Communicate with your local 911 dispatch center as to its location.

The storage of pesticides and other farm chemicals is of major concern to emergency responders and the number one thing you can do to help them is centralize your chemical inventory. Ideally, this is an isolated building that can be secured. Fire-resistant construction is preferable.

Some mailbox addresses are partially or totally missing. Help emergency responders find you quickly by ensuring the address is clearly visible, day or night.

If possible, hosting an emergency responder’s tour is good training for everyone. Invite fire department, law enforcement and EMS personnel to show the locations of water mains, electricity control boxes, fuel and chemical supplies, your emergency mailbox and livestock facilities.

Physical security strategies and measures are based on three principles: deterrence, detection and delay.

Lighting an area will deter mischief. Other deterrence strategies include the installation of gates, fences and no-trespassing signs. Barking dogs can be effective.

A detection system will alert you when someone enters your property. Motion sensors and cameras can be effective. If needed, ask local law enforcement to increase their patrol of the area.

Delay strategies are meant to slow and disrupt a perpetrator’s attempt to access your property. Physical barriers such as locks, fences, doors and distance from the road can be effective, but should not hinder access for emergency responders. Ask your sheriff how long it would take officers to reach your farm in response to a 911 call.

In the publication, Whitford and his colleagues discuss more specific measures that can be employed on a farm. Give serious thought to emergency preparedness and physical security on your farm. Responders need to know what’s there, what it can do to them, what they can do to reduce the risk and how they can minimize further damage to your assets.

For more information, request the above-mentioned publication at the Purdue Extension office, or find it online for purchase or download at www.edustore.purdue.edu. Additionally, find resources from Indiana Department of Homeland Security at: in.gov/dhs. In Whitley County, you may also contact the local Emergency Management Agency for assistance at whitleygov.com/department/index.php?structureid=13, or 260-248-3167.