A large storm system is headed our way and tornadoes are all around us or a train carrying sulfuric acid has spilled on the train tracks can you rapidly evacuate your house, horses and pets?

This was the terrifying scenario Connie Brooks presented for us at the Third Annual Open House at Springhill Equine.  While none of us want to think about these things it is important to plan ahead for the unpredictable.   This week I spend some time in the evenings on the internet.  Please don’t tell on me since no one knows Teeney and I get on the computer.  We cats can do anything even without opposable thumbs.  Anyway, while surfing on the internet I found some valuable guidelines to make sure as much can be done as possible in the face of an emergency evacuation.

Step one is similar to the primary disaster plans we talked about last week.  Start by sitting down to make a plan.  What type of disaster could occur near you?  We are near train tracks and the cement plant but not a river or creek.  Are you near the interstate? Nuclear problems are unlikely in our area but what about power plant or other manufacturing facilities?

What can you reasonably get done in 45 minutes or less?  Do you have carriers for all your cats?  Leashes and collars for all your dogs?  Can you trailer all your horses or donkeys or will you have to decide who goes and who stays?  These are decisions you don’t want to make with a Sheriff’s Officer yelling at you to get out now!

Have a close but not too close evacuation location in mind.  Having a “close” location within 30-45 miles of home and a distant location, in Atlanta for example, ensures you have a plan for any emergency.  These evacuation locations should be known to your family, close friends and emergency contact.  Once again your emergency contact should be someone far outside our area who can be a contact point for family members or emergency personnel.

All of your animals should have collars or halter with ID tags ready to go.  Your animals should also be trained to wear these collars.  Us cats in particular can be persnickety about collars but getting us used to them during non-emergencies will ensure we are more compliant when it is necessary.  Here I will put in a shameless plug for microchips.  No matter what, a microchip is there and ready to identify your pet at anytime.  You won’t have to find it, put it on, worry about it staying or any of the other issues with collars and halters.  When you get your animals micro chipped be sure to include your out-of-area contact and keep your information updated once yearly.

An emergency kit should be kept stocked and ready to go at all times.  This kit should include photographs of all your animals, preferably with you in the picture, registration papers for any registered animals, copies of important household information such as insurance papers, deeds, birth certificates, etc. and emergency first aid supplies.  This kit should be somewhere quick and easy to grab on your way out the door.

Following your return from any disaster, be prepared for your animals to be out of sorts.  Your property may look very different, fencing may be down, and buildings can be unsafe.  Small animals should be kept leashed, crated or contained in small areas until clean-up is completed and they have re-acclimated to your property.

By now you should have noticed a recurring theme to Disaster Month…Plan ahead.  I have learned from Connie Brooks, my reading on the internet and chats with the Doctors and staff at Springhill Equine that planning ahead is the key to surviving any type of disaster.  There are many resources available for help planning including www.AAEP.org, www.Ready.gov and www.HumaneSociety.org  Each of these websites has an amazing variety of information about what you need for horses, livestock, human, cats, dogs and even wildlife during emergencies.  You may also contact us here at Springhill Equine for help getting started.

That’s the news this week from my counter top.  May your food bowl be full and your litter box clean.  Tony


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