• Protecting Pets from Wildfire

    By Meslissa Rivera

    Man Saves Rabbit - via Breitbart Protecting Pets from Wildfire


    The video was all over social media a week and a half ago: a man panicking, hopping up and down, coaxing and finally saving a wild rabbit that ran toward the flames of the Thomas Fire in southern California.

    Disasters like fires are just as hard on animals as they are on people. At least 46 racehorses died and a trainer was injured last week when the Lilac Fire blasted through the San Luis Rey Downs Training Center, in San Diego County. By December 10, Ventura County Animal Services was housing more than 1,000 fire-evacuated pets, according to a story from the Ventura County Star. Animal control officers there evacuated about 100 birds from one home, including chickens, quail and a peacock, the story said.

    The story said that although animal rescue services were keeping up with demands for food, veterinary care and other needs, they were struggling in part because people weren’t prepared to evacuate their animals.

    “We’ve had an extreme volume of calls,” Ventura County Animal Services field operations supervisor Brian Bray told the Ventura County Star. “Everything from ‘Can you check on my animals because I’ve been evacuated’ to ‘my animals need to be evacuated’ to ‘where can I take my animals.’”

    Some of the fires raging in southern California moved so fast people got burned trying to get away.

    Do you have the ability to transport your pets out of harm’s way if you have just minutes to evacuate?

    “What we’ve noticed is a lot of transportation issues as far as livestock and large animals, people not having enough trailers or not being able to get them out quickly enough,” Bray told the Ventura County Star.

    Do you have a pet carrier? How big is it? 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.

    Do you have someone who can evacuate your pet if you’re not home?

    Some pet owners in the San Diego metro area got evacuation orders while they were at work, Kelli Schry, a spokeswoman for the San Diego Humane Society told the Arizona Republic.

    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.

    Also, know how to reach your local Humane Society or animal protection service in case your backup isn’t around either. They can send people behind fire lines, according to the Arizona Republic story. Do you know where you’ll take your pet?

    Most evacuation 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 of the United States 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. Remember that many hotels will have a pet surcharge.

    Do you have everything your pet will need?

    The Humane Society has a checklist for a pet disaster kit.

    Pack food and water for five days. 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. Include first aid supplies.

    Make sure your pets have current ID tags. The Humane Society of the United States suggests putting an out-of-state contact on the back of the tag. Also, microchip your pet.

    Without identification, "we have to rely on a description of the animal, and if someone doesn't come forward or know to go to the Humane Society to look for their pet, then we have no way to contact them," Schry told the Arizona Republic.

    Keep your pet’s records handy in a waterproof container, the Humane Society recommended. Include a veterinary history and name of your veterinarian, feeding schedules, medical conditions and behavior issues, in case you have to board your pets away from you.

    Take a 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.


    Disaster_Blog_Banner Protect Pets from Fire y'all

  • First Aid Tips for Wildfire Smoke Inhalation

    Smoke inhalation is a serious concern for those in the path of a wildfire. Excessive exposure to smoke can lead to significant respiratory problems and other medical issues, and can even result in death. In fact, smoke inhalation is the most common cause of death in a fire situation.

    As wildfires can move swiftly and their smoke can hang for miles, you are at increased risk for smoke exposure and inhalation problems, even if the fire isn’t nearby. It is important to know what to do in the event you or a household member starts suffering ill effects from wildfire smoke. Understanding the proper first-aid techniques for helping a victim can mean the difference between life and death.


    Symptoms of Smoke Inhalation


    Smoke Inhalation Coughing


    Wildfire smoke can affect the lungs, eyes, and even your skin. Common symptoms of smoke inhalation may include:

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Frequent coughing
    • Breath that smells smoky
    • Black residue in nose or mouth
    • Red, irritated, or watery eyes
    • Irritated, itchy skin

    Recognizing these signs early in yourself and others will help victims get the prompt attention they need to successfully survive the situation.


    First Aid Tips for Treating Smoke Inhalation

    If you recognize smoke-related issues in a household member, you need to:


    Call for Emergency Assistance

    If your phones are still working, dial 911 immediately. There may be delays in accessing your location due to wildfires in the area, but the dispatcher can provide you with additional advice for treating the victim until help can arrive.


    Get Out of the Smoke

    Bring the person inside, provided the air quality indoors is still safe. If not safe, evacuate immediately to a local shelter or hospital.


    Checking Breathing

    If the person is conscious, ask them questions about how they are feeling. If they are in and out of consciousness or unable to talk, take note of how the person is breathing. Check their airways for black residue and perform a pulse check.


    Perform CPR

    If the person is not breathing, you should start CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) as necessary. Report unconsciousness to 911 immediately.


    Supply Oxygen


    Smoke Inhalation Oxygen mask


    If you have a respirator mask with oxygen in your emergency supply kit, use it as soon as possible to provide fresh oxygen to the victim.


    Stay Alert to Changes

    Remain alert to behavioral changes in the person. Shock is possible in smoke inhalation victims so keep them in a semi-seated position to ensure good air intake.


    Check for Injuries

    If the victim fell down or fainted due to excessive smoke inhalation, check their bodies for broken bones, bleeding wounds, or other injuries. Administer first aid to clean up wounds. If broken bones are suspected, avoid moving the victim if possible.

    As victims take in fresh oxygen, they should regain a little energy but may still appear to be disoriented and irritable. The effects of smoke inhalation can have an unpredictable impact on the brain, even causing violent behavior in the aftermath. Medical treatment from experienced professionals should be a first priority after initial first aid is given.


    Disaster_Blog_Banner Smoke Inhalation

  • Protecting Children from Wildfire Hazards

    While every member of your household will no doubt be affected by a wildfire emergency, young children are at increased risk for injury and emotional stress during such a situation, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Wildfires often start without warning and can spread quickly, leaving little time to prepare. As the household prepares to deal with the situation, young children can easily become scared and even injured.

    To prepare and protect young children during a wildfire, here are 8 tips to consider:


    1. Hold a Family Meeting



    Wildfires can occur anywhere but if you live in a particularly high-risk area, it is important to discuss this type of emergency situation with all members of your family. Explain what a wildfire is, what happens during such an emergency, and discuss ways everyone can help prevent wildfires from starting.

    Use age-appropriate language your young children can understand and be sure to let them ask questions.


    2. Make a Plan and Practice



    While small children may not be able to participate effectively in creating an emergency plan, they can be part of the practice drills your family holds to prepare for a wildfire emergency. Your household should have two plans in place: one for evacuations and one for sheltering in place.

    Practice evacuation drills with everyone to ensure they can get out of the house safely during different times of the day, including late at night when everyone is asleep. The more young children practice, the less afraid they may be during an actual emergency.


    3. Know the Emergency Plan for School

    If your child is in school or at a daycare, it is important to find out the school’s protocol during a wildfire emergency. This helps you have peace of mind you’ll know where your children are during an evacuation.

    It also allows you to talk about these plans directly with your children to reduce their fears when mom and dad aren’t around to help.


    4. Pack Child-Friendly Supplies

    In addition to having food and personal protective supplies for a wildfire emergency, families with young children should also stockpile kid-friendly activities to keep them busy when sheltering at home, or if an evacuation becomes necessary.

    Keep crayons, coloring books, and other non-electronic games in your emergency supplies. Have a blanket, stuffed animal, or other item that brings your child comfort during an evacuation.

    You also need to ensure you have a supply of formula, baby food, drinking cups, bottles, and other accessories infants and toddlers might need when away from home.


    5. Avoid Fumes and Wildfire Smoke

    Young children can succumb to the effects of wildfire smoke faster than adults. Keep kids inside and away from the smoke until you need to evacuate. Use respirators to protect their breathing whenever you leave home to evacuate the area.

    Never let children outside unattended when wildfire is in the area. Children who are prone to wandering can easily become lost and are at increased danger with a nearby wildfire.


    6. Stay Evacuated for As Long as Possible

    It’s natural to want to return to your home and see the damage. Never allow any member of your household to return to the scene until the authorities have cleared the area and authorized homeowners to return.

    If possible, make alternate childcare arrangements with friends or relatives before returning to your home. Remaining smoke and other toxins are particularly harmful to young, developing lungs.


    7. Keep a Close Watch



    After a fire, your home may be livable but outdoor dangers can be fatal to children. Burning embers can spark additional fires, even from miles away. If the wildfires are still burning in nearby locations, your property may still be at risk.

    There are also dangers from fallen trees, downed power lines, and chemical residue from fire-fighting agents. Keep kids under constant supervision and inside the house as much as possible when you return home.


    8. Seek Medical Attention Immediately

    If your child is injured during wildfire preparations or after the fire has passed the area, it is important to keep the injury clean and covered at all times. Check the injury frequently for signs of swelling or redness. If you notice changes or if your child develops a fever, waste no time in seeking medical attention.

    If your child is exposed to wildfire smoke during evacuation or while sheltering in place, seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible to ensure a clean bill of health.

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