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 July 2013 artwork

The Napa, CA Firewise Program’s featured artist of the month for July is nine-year-old Emily Teagarden.  Her drawing of two animals surrounded by wildfire demonstrates the importance of including pets, large animals and livestock in emergency preparedness and evacuation plans.

Having a plan and being prepared can save both animal and human lives. Carol Rice, a wildfire expert working with Napa, CA Firewise provided the following tips on what you can do to protect your animals during a wildfire.

Pets are not allowed in disaster shelters, so making advance plans with a friend or family member outside your immediate community is important.  Since friends and family may not always be available when needed, it’s important to know if your local Humane Society has an emergency shelter program.  As a contingency plan, make a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians that shelter animals and also include hotels in adjacent communities that allow pets to stay in rooms along with their owners. 

There are fewer options for larger animals and livestock and trailering may be necessary. Try to select a friend’s pasture or a boarding facility that is well away from the fire to avoid moving animals multiple times. Larger animals also need more time to evacuate, so evacuating should be started early, even before you need to leave.

 Include the following in your pet emergency preparedness kit:

  • Medications and immunization records in a plastic zip-lock type of bag
  • Leash, collar, and pet carrier
  • Favorite types of toys and treats
  • Photos of the pets (in case you are separated and need to claim your animal)
  • Food, water and containers/bowls for both
  • Cat litter and pan
  • Manual can opener

Large animals require more stuff and more effort. A plastic trash barrel (with a lid) can store necessities for equine care and handling for 72 hours:

  • Water bucket
  • Extra lead rope
  • Halter
  • Crop
  • Sheet or blanket
  • Wraps and other equine first aid items

The storage container should be light enough to easily get into a vehicle. Use leather halters and cotton lead ropes since synthetic materials can melt and burn your horse and its handler.

For further information regarding planning for pets during an emergency visit the Red Cross and Human Society sites.

Love animals?  Consider volunteering with your community’s or a neighboring area’s Community Animal Response Team (CART).   


NHMAI'll be headed to Colorado in less than two weeks for a unique set of workshops all about natural hazards and loss reduction. There's still time for you to register, so please check out the agenda and the links for the Natural Hazards Research & Applications Workshop and the subsequent International Hazard Mitigation Practitioners Symposium

My Denver-based colleague Cathy Prudhomme will present at both events, covering information about NFPA's investigation into the wildfire safety needs of youth. I'll be moderating the panels which feature experts on youth and family  concerns related to natural disasters.

Not only will Cathy and I get to talk about NFPA and its initiatives, but we'll have the opportunity to learn from and network with experts in disaster safety from around the world. If you'd like to join us, act now and get your registration in by signing up on the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association web page.

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