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Safe Living in Sonoma Valley


Planning for disasters during fun times

By Julie Atwood

Summer is here and we can travel again! With so many people planning long-deferred vacations and family gatherings, it seems like a good time to talk about vacation emergency and disaster planning. Whether you’re taking a road trip, camping, riding in the backcountry, or welcoming visitors to your inn or vacation rental property, we’ve included important checklists and action items that could save lives and are guaranteed to provide peace of mind.

Planning a trip?

Incorporating emergency and disaster plans into your vacation prep means factoring in all the same essentials included in your home disaster action plan. Ensuring safety for your pets and other animals takes a few more steps.

Emergency alerts

This information applies to travelers, home and animal “sitters,” and visitors.

Be sure to sign up for emergency alerts while planning your vacation. We all get emergency alerts for our homes, workplaces, kids’ schools, and loved ones, right? Now add vacation alerts and contacts. Sign up for all local emergency alerts for your travel route and destination. If your home or animal sitters are not local, make sure they are signed up for all alerts for your home. The same goes for adding the AM/FM news radio stations and NOAA weather channel to your emergency communications info.

Next, learn about the possible hazard conditions that can pose threats to your vacation fun, and make sure you have maps, evacuation info, and several ways to get accurate weather information. All these items are essential for people caring for your home and animals as well.

Basically, everything you have in your home emergency plan, along with basic emergency supplies, should be part of your vacation preparation. Campers are probably the best-prepared folks in emergencies; chat with friends who routinely go camping for great tips and advice.

Vacation emergency planning for your animals

Planning for animals, whether for your own traveling companions, those relaxing at home, or visiting pets, requires a few more steps. Don’t assume anything. Take the lead to ensure that the people caring for your animals and staying in vacation rentals in your neighborhood are fire- and earthquake-wise and have the tools they need to evacuate with animals and/or request assistance for animals sheltered in place.

• Have a written plan for animal sitters and review it with them.

• House and animal sitters should be familiar with evacuation zones, when to go, where your pet kits and emergency supplies are stored, and have your pre-arranged “safe place” evacuation destinations and routes.

• Make sure sitters and visitors know how to disable the garage door and electric gates, too.

Traveling with animals

If you’re taking your pets on vacation this summer, there are some extra considerations to keep them safe, healthy, and relaxed. After all, it should be fun for them, too!

• Make sure your pet’s microchip info is current and that they are always wearing ID.

• Carry wallet cards with pet emergency info, including good photos of pets. Carry a copy of your advance animal care directive.

• Pet travel kits should include enough hygiene and sanitation supplies, water, food, and medications for at least 3-5 days longer than your planned trip, in case you’re caught in a local emergency or cannot return home because home is under an evacuation order.

• Add emergency contacts for resources along your route and near your destination (veterinarians, pet-friendly motels and campgrounds, boarding facilities).

• Take a class on pet and/or equine first aid before you go, and include some species-specific items in your own first aid kit.

Traveling with equines? All items above should be on your checklist, plus:

• Know how to get help on the road by joining an equestrian emergency roadside service.

• Include an emergency hoof-care kit, emergency colic care supplies, and medications provided by your veterinarian.

• Your vet contacts should be on a wallet card along with your advance care directive.

• If your equines are insured, include insurance documents with your vehicle insurance and in your advance care directive. Safe Living – continued from page 16

• When wilderness trekking with dogs or equines, know how to get help for your animals. Find out if there’s an animal technical rescue team in the region.

• Use reliable communication devices with GPS capabilities and stay alert and aware of conditions in the region that could prevent you from making a fast exit. Know where fires are and stay abreast of weather conditions.

Preparedness planning for vacation rental owners, renters, property managers, and neighbors

• Be a leader in responsible hospitality and neighborhood safety. Make a disaster action plan and send a digital version or make it available online to renters.

Include animal evacuation and shelter-in-place guidance, evacuation zone maps and SoCo emergency links, and a neighborhood safety group contact list or phone tree.

• If the property has fire suppression equipment, include instructions and make sure renters understand water restrictions and fire-safety concerns.

• Include information about rattlesnake and predator awareness.

Help your visitors stay safe

Here in the beautiful and hospitable Valley of the Moon, we feel it’s vitally important to help visitors and residents be as safe as possible, and that safety awareness should be standard operating procedure for responsible travelers and hosts. So here are a few more notes about vacation safety for owners, managers, renters, and neighbors of inns and vacation rental homes and other facilities:

• Use only animal-safe cleaning and disinfecting products. When using bleach, use a 10:1 water to bleach solution and air-dry completely before animals use the space.

• Check ahead of your trip to learn about any regional animal disease outbreaks at your destination or along the way.

Talk with your veterinarian to make sure you can keep animals healthy and safe, and that you don’t bring home any infectious animal diseases.

• If you own or manage a petfriendly inn, vacation rental, or campground, require customers to provide proof of pet and equine vaccinations.

• Regardless of your plans and destination, keep in mind that COVID restrictions could change rapidly, and be ready to don a mask and sanitize your hands and living quarters while vacationing.

Life in paradise — as we know so well — is not without challenges

The best way to have a relaxed summer, with or without travel, is to be prepared. Readiness has brought us together; let’s keep paying it forward. Share information with neighbors, friends, and family. And have a fabulous summer, filled with fun and companionship!

Request animal evacuation prep packets for your neighborhood or community group in English and Spanish at [email protected] Keep the numbers for animal emergency help lines handy, including Sonoma CART (707-861-0699), North Bay Animal Services (707-762-6227), Sonoma County Animal Services (707-565-7100), and NorCal Livestock Evac (707-234-7193).

US Rider Membership, West Coast Equine Evac (on Facebook), CB Ranch (on Facebook), and local animal control and humane societies can provide helpful safety resources and information while on the road.