• Preparing Pets for Emergencies

    Preparing Pets - FloodIn May 2011, storms and spring runoff combined to produce some of the worst flooding in a century in Memphis, Tennessee. The local government ordered more than 1,300 homes evacuated.

    Some people had to evacuate so fast they left their pets behind. Others took pets but found housing them in hotels was costly – if allowed at all. The American Humane Association, which sponsors an animal rescue group that travels to emergencies, reported it took in 187 animals. It pulled 50 of them from the flooding, including a cat that bore four kittens after its rescue.

    When preparing your family for emergencies, don’t forget pets. Preparing pets is just as important.

     

    ID your pet

    Preparing Pets with TagsYour pets should have current ID tags in case you get separated from them. The Humane Society of the United States suggests putting an out-of-state contact on the back of the tag, since an evacuation might force you out of your home. Pets with microchips in them have been found halfway across the country, so if possible, get your pet microchipped and enroll it in a recovery database, said the Humane Society.

    “If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home,” said ready.gov.

    Once you’ve tagged your pet, make sure you keep its records handy in a waterproof container.

    Your pet’s records should include a veterinary history and name of your veterinarian, feeding schedules, medical conditions and behavior issues, in case you have to board your pets apart from you.

    You need a current photo of you with your pet along with its description. That can help others find your pet and prove it’s yours if you get separated.

     

    Make a pet disaster kit

    “Keep in mind that what's best for you is typically what's best for your animals,” said ready.gov.

    Pets need disaster kits just like people do.

    The Humane Society of the United States has a great checklist for a pet disaster kit.

    It suggests packing food and water for five days (check out our freeze-dried pet food, great for long-term storage). Remember a can opener. Though your pet doesn’t need a gallon of water per day, the checklist recommends keeping an extra gallon of water on hand to clean your pet if it gets exposed to chemicals or flood water. You also need equipment to collect pet waste: a cat litter box with litter and a scoop and garbage bags.

    Preparing Pets with Meds, etc.You should have first aid supplies for your pets as well as for your family, including medicines and a pet first aid book.

    “There are many minor injuries you can deal with at home before going to a vet, especially in an emergency or when you can't get in to see a doctor quickly,” wrote Deann Shepherd, director of communications for the Humane Society of Utah in an email.

    A pet could end up staying in a carrier for hours or longer. The Humane Society of the United States recommends a carrier large enough to allow a pet to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down. Small pets should have a secure cage with blankets or towels for warmth and any species-specific needs. Also bring leashes or harnesses. If possible, a pet’s bed and toys from home are useful to reduce its stress.

    Other useful items include paper towels, trash bags, grooming items, and bleach.

     

    Find a safe place to stay

    Most shelters won’t take pets. See if you can arrange for friends or relatives outside your immediate area to shelter you and your pets, the Humane Society said. If you have more than one pet, you may need to house them in separate places. A kennel or vet’s office might board your pets. Or, though this will be more costly, you can track down a pet-friendly hotel.

    The Humane Society has a list of online resources for pet-friendly hotels, reproduced below. Be aware that many hotels will have a pet surcharge.

     

    Find Pet Friendly Hotels:

    Bringfido.com
    Dogfriendly.com
    Doginmysuitcase.com
    Pet-friendly-hotels.net
    Pets-allowed-hotels.com
    Petswelcome.com
    Tripswithpets.com

     

    As a last resort, ask your local animal shelter if its staff can watch your pet, the Humane Society said. However, be aware that shelters often have limited resources.

     

    Plan for your pet in case you're not home

    Ask a neighbor or nearby family member to take your pets if you’re not at home when there’s a disaster. Give that person a key and show them where your pets are likely to hide and where you keep emergency supplies. Make sure that person knows your pets and vice-versa.

     

    What solutions have you come up with for preparing pets for disasters? Tell us in the comments!

    Posted In: Planning Tagged With: preparing pets, pets, disaster

  • Preparing for Minor Emergencies

    Minor Emergency - Train Derailment This derailed train forced us to evacuate our home.

    When I was a young, budding teenager, we lived on the outskirts of town. Everything to the front of us was houses, subdivisions, and city, but behind us were trees, a farmer’s field, and further still, railroad tracks. One chilly winter evening, we received word that we had to evacuate. As it turned out, a train had derailed and spilled its contents of ammonia.

    5,000 people were ordered from their homes.

    We were definitely unprepared for this abrupt evacuation order, but we just as certainly couldn’t stay home. And, if my memory serves me correctly, we didn’t have too long before we had to be out. Fortunately, we had some relatives on the other side of the city that were out of town, so we were able to stay there for two days until the spill was cleaned up.

    But what might have happened had we not had that familial resource across town? We had no other shelter or way to cook food. We would have been eating at McDonald’s for the next two days (which us kids would have loved), but that most certainly would have strained the family budget.

    Not only that, this happened in the winter time. Up in Canada where I grew up, winters can be brutal. There was no way we could camp out in the family minivan. We were lucky we had somewhere to go.

    This isn’t the kind of disaster we normally worry about. Never in my imagination would I have thought I would have to evacuate my home because a train dumped ammonia everywhere. There are other minor emergencies and disasters we might not consider. Power outages, broken water mains, locking yourself out of your home, medical emergencies, and other situations we just can’t quite comprehend ever happening to us. But, just like the train and ammonia event, we have to be prepared for anything.

    Victoria Gazeley of Modern Homesteading suggests that if you’ve been preparing for major disasters, it’s highly likely that you have a lot of what you need for the smaller, more minor emergencies. Power outages are a more common occurrence than ammonia spills, but are you ready for one of those?

    Minor Emergencies - Power OutageJust in case of a power outage (or other minor emergency), Gazeley recommends having a backup method for cooking food, like a Kelly Kettle. The Optimus Polaris Stove is another great alternative option for cooking when the power goes out. Alternate sources of light, power, heat, and water are also important resources to store. Check out the Government of Canada’s site for more information on preparing for power outages.

    These resources are not only good for power outages, but a host of other minor emergencies as well. Remember, a huge tornado or a massive earthquake aren’t the only things that can come in and disrupt your life. While it is still important to prepare for those major disasters, take the steps necessary to ensure that you will also be prepared for minor emergencies as well. When there’s a proverbial ammonia spill, the time to prepare has ended.

     

    How have you prepared for minor emergencies? Let us know in the comments!

    Posted In: Planning Tagged With: ammonia spill, minor emergencies, power outage, evacuation

  • Preparing Children with Emergency Signs

    Preparing children for emergencies is essential for families. You can train most children, even young ones, how to react to a disaster. You should create an emergency plan for natural and human-caused disasters, then practice at least twice a year so everyone knows where to go and who to contact in case they need to evacuate, recommends the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

    However, babies can’t be trained. Pets usually have trouble following an evacuation plan. Some special needs family members can’t be trained or may have trouble communicating or moving. Some use medical equipment like concentrated oxygen, which is explosive in a fire.

    Preparing Children - Baby on BoardThough not for everybody, emergency signs can be useful to those populations. These include window stickers that indicate children’s bedrooms, oxygen signs, medical alert stickers and bracelets, and car signs like, oh, yeah, “Baby on Board.” “Baby on Board” signs were so ubiquitous in the mid-1980s they even inspired a song on “The Simpsons.”

    The advantage is simple: the more information first responders have, the better, said Trooper Josh Lewis from the Colorado State Patrol.

    An autistic boy from his church congregation wandered away from home, which caused an hours-long search. Fortunately, the boy wore a medical alert bracelet.

    “Should law enforcement come across him and see … the medical alert bracelet, we would much rather have the information than not,” Lewis said.

    Medical alert stickers are available.

    Preparing Children - Autistic ChildEmergency signs are useful on cars too. A sign like “Autistic child may not respond to verbal commands” or even “Baby on Board” helps first responders be more alert, Lewis said.

    “Any time we respond to a crash and see a car seat or anything that has to do with a kid in a vehicle, we are going to scour the area,” he said.

    Advocacy groups often recommend emergency alert window stickers for apartment buildings, said Ken Willette, division manager of the public fire protection division of the NFPA. They help responders know where to search first. Private homeowners may also post the stickers.

    “It’s all about life and safety. If people feel comfortable putting up a warning label or sign to let first responders know they might need special services, that’s a good thing,” he said.

    Preparing Children with OxygenOxygen signs are not voluntary, Willette said. Many states require people to post an oxygen sign if they have compressed oxygen cylinders in their home. Remember the movie “Apollo 13”? A single spark in its oxygen tank destroyed the spacecraft.

    Emergency responders like to know if they’ll be facing something like that. Wouldn’t you?

    Voluntary signs like child stickers in windows can come with disadvantages, according to the NFPA.

    First, they can create a false sense of security and imply that children should wait for rescue. Parents need to teach children to respond immediately when the smoke alarms sounds, know two ways out of every room, crawl under smoke, gather at a meeting place and call the fire department from outside a burning building, according to the NFPA.

    Second, emergency signs can suggest vulnerable areas in the home to intruders. They also open up owners to the abuses from bullies. A mother in Utah who had an autism warning sign for first responders on her car came out one morning to find somebody had defaced it with stickers that read “spoiled brat” and “unetitled” (sic).

    Preparing Children - Tag their roomFinally, and most importantly, when children change rooms or grow up, the window signs need to change rooms or be removed. Firefighters could waste vital rescue time looking for a child who isn’t there, a NFPA brochure said.

    With all that in mind, if you choose to use emergency signs, or must use them by law, follow two directions. Make sure the signs are visible and take them down when they don’t apply. Whether or not you use emergency notification equipment, do contact emergency services in your area if you have family members with special medical needs. Some fire departments can enter that information so it will show when dispatchers access an address, Willette said. If you have medical equipment that requires electricity, tell power companies so they can prioritize that during outages.

    “As long as you feel comfortable, first responders would much rather have the information than not,” Lewis said.

    Emergency notification signs, bracelets, and stickers are available in many places. I found them for sale with a simple Web search and on Amazon.com. Some fire departments sometimes have free window stickers. I also found free printable signs with a Google search. As you see, preparing children is more than just teaching them about disasters. It's about informing others around you to take extra care as well.

     

    - Melissa

    Posted In: Planning Tagged With: emergency sign, baby on board, preparing children

  1. 1-3 of 928 items

Please wait...