WILDFIRE! American Humane Association Offers Tips to Help Protect You, Your Family and Your Pets Before, During and After a Wildfire
Wildfires are terrifying and dangerous phenomena. Officials are working valiantly to battle the blazes in Idaho but it is important for all families to be prepared. To help, here are some tips from American Humane Association and the experts at its Red Star™ emergency services program to help protect you, your family and your pets in the event a wildfire threatens you:
Before the Fire
- *Know your wildfire risk and be aware of fire conditions.
- *Plan multiple routes to a safe destination. NEVER leave pets behind.
- *Evacuate your family and pets as early as you can and remember to take your disaster preparedness kit for your pets (i.e. First Aid kit, leashes, and pets’ carrying cases, bowls, sanitation materials, chew toy, minimum 3 days—ideally 7-10 days—of food, meds, water).
- *Create a defensible space. Visit www.firewise.org for tips for preparing homes to reduce wildfire risk.
- *Have a list of evacuation destinations including family and friends’ addresses, boarding facilities, pet-friendly hotels, and emergency shelter locations.
- *Make sure your animals are wearing collars and have current ID (consider microchipping your animals as it provides a secondary means for identifying your animal); take their updated vaccination papers and a photo in case you become separated and need to identify your pet if he/she should you become separated.
- *Stock extra pet supplies in your vehicle.
- *Don’t leave children or pets in vehicles.
- *Don’t leave pets tethered or crated without you.
- *Practice loading cats and dogs in pet carriers before you have to.
- *Practice loading large animals into a trailer and driving them before you have to.
- 8Stay tuned to emergency channels and heed instructions. Disasters can change quickly.
After the Fire
- *Use caution when returning home and walking around the affected area. Avoid debris and do not allow children or pets to wander.
- *Be cautious about all food, which may have spoiled when electricity was interrupted.
- *Keep your dogs on a leash and cats in a carrier (until you can make sure your house and yard are safe and secure)
- *Watch for objects that could cause injury or harm to your children or pets.
- *Given pets time to reorient. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and cause your pet confusion or to become lost.
- *Keep children and pets away from downed power lines and debris.
- *Keep an eye on children’s emotional reaction to the crisis. Talk to children. And, just as important, listen to them. Reassure them frequently that you, local officials, and their communities are all working to keep them safe and return life back to normal. Watch for symptoms of stress, including clinginess, stomachaches, headaches, nightmares, trouble eating or sleeping, or changes in behavior. If you are concerned about the way your children are responding long after the crisis is over, consult your doctor, school counselor, or local mental health professional.
- *Uncertainty and change in the environment affects animals, too, presenting new stresses and dangers. Your pet’s behavior may change after a crisis, becoming more aggressive or self-protective. Be sensitive to these changes and keep more room between them, other animals, children, or strangers. Animals need comforting, too. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs. If possible, provide a safe and quiet environment, even if it is not their own home.
- *Be aware that flooding or even flash flooding may be a concern after a wildfire, so please see our tips on flood preparedness.
“Now is the time to act,” said Justin Scally, national director of emergency services for American Humane Association. “If you have time to prepare and you haven’t been ordered to evacuate, be sure to start your preparations now. If you have been ordered to evacuate, do NOT leave your pets behind and leave immediately.”
“Please follow the directions of local officials very closely,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. “These situations can change drastically, very quickly and therefore it’s important to prepare now even if you haven’t yet been ordered to leave. For your safety, your children’s safety, and the safety of your pets – act now.”