By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record January 30, 2009
Disasters can be tragic, as we have seen recently in Haiti and a few years ago with Katrina. Fortunately hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and land slides are not common here; but we are at risk for earthquakes, fires, floods, or terrorist attacks. Planning ahead can help protect your family and your cherished companions; it may save their lives.
Have collars on all of your pets, even if they have another form of permanent identification. On the tag have a local phone number as well as the phone number of a relative that lives outside of California because local phone service may not be working. Have a form of permanent identification for your companion such as a microchip or tattoo. Our clinic has been able to reunite several wandering pets with their owners because of microchip technology. You may not think that your dog or cat may roam; but it is always possible if windows are broken, or fences get knocked down.
Post a window sticker on your front door or window that will let police, fire, or other emergency crew know that you have pets. Breed specific Pet Rescue decals can be purchased on line at www.greatpetstuffonline.com. The ASPCA also offers a free sticker/pet safety pack at www.aspca.org.
If you have outdoor pets, provide adequate shelter from wind, heat, and rain. Do not house your dog or cat near exposed metal. Poles and other metal structures can draw lightning, allowing for potential electrocution of your animals. Do not chain or tie your pets to anything, as they will be unable to escape if you are not there when there is an emergency. Make sure there is access to fresh, clean water at all times.
Keep a list of emergency numbers posted in an easily accessible location. For people, have all doctors listed and their specialties, the two nearest hospitals, Poison Control, local Police, and Fire. For animals, include your veterinarian, the veterinary emergency clinic, Poison Control, Animal control, and the phone number of a friend or relative who can care for your cherished companions if you are not able to. Also include numbers for a local boarding facility, and a hotel that allows pets.
Have a predetermined location to meet with your family members and possibly your pets in case of an emergency. Don't be surprised if you are not be able to call your family members. In the event of a significant emergency, local phone service may not be working. Pay phones may be more likely to be working than cell phones depending on the type of event that occurred.
Make sure your smoke detectors are functioning correctly, and change the batteries every 6 months with the seasonal time change. Take a class in CPR or first aid; sometimes training specific to pets is offered. Keep a $100-200 supply of cash available. Credit and ATM cards are convenient; but they may not function well after a significant storm or other tragedy. There are multiple things that you can do to your house to make it more earthquake, fire, and flood safe. Consult with your insurance agent and local emergency services regarding protection for your home.
For more information, please consult the American Veterinary Medical Association website at www.avma.org , the California Emergency Management Agency at www.oes.ca.gov or, the Federal Emergency Management Agency at www.fema.gov. Below is a list of suggested items for a Disaster Preparedness Kit. The website www.homelandpreparedness.com offers a wide variety of First Aid Kits and emergency supplies.