Kenwood Press

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News: 06/15/2020

Disaster planning for your animals

A self-assessment quiz

Good advice when disaster planning and execution for people and animals.

Courtesy of the Glen Ellen-based HALTER Project

How prepared are you for fire season? Or any other disaster? Rate your readiness with the self-assessment Q&A.

Next, take steps to improve where you feel you need it most. Here are a few "Action Items" to help.

Then, breathe, and get ready to enjoy summer!

1. Animals at home during a wildfire - Assessing the risks:


  • Pens and pastures: are they defensible?
  • Are your fences secure?
  • Water source: is it secure?
  • Trees: can they fall on fences or paddocks?
  • Is your hay stored a safe distance away from buildings, trees and animals?
  • Are your "safe spaces for animals" clearly visible? (Not hidden by trees?)
  • Access to your property: can emergency workers get in to feed, water and check on animals?


ACTION ITEM: Add to your safe water storage capacity.

2. Planning to Evacuate - Plan and Practice!


  • Do your animals all load easily, for anyone, in a variety of trailers?
  • Do you have more than enough transportation help lined up?
  • Do you have extra halters, lead ropes, buckets, water & feed?
  • Do you know all possible routes?
  • Do you have multiple destinations?
  • Do you have multiple resources who can get your animals if you're not there?


ACTION ITEM: Make or update your "resources" list.

3. When you and your animals are separated - Planning for speedy reunification:


  • Are pets, and equines microchipped?
  • Do animals all have some sort of ID on them?
  • Do you have photo ID for your animals? (And short videos of pets?)


ACTION ITEM: Get pets and equines microchipped; make sure your chip info is current.

4. Evacuation Locations - Keeping the whole family, and animals, healthy:


  • Do you have health records, medications, plenty of food and water to take with you?
  • Do you have multiple plans and locations?
  • Can older or lame animals handle the stress of emergency sheltering?
  • Do you have masks, disinfectant and hygiene supplies in your ready kits?


ACTION ITEM: Know your destination and how to get there, far in advance.

5. Be aware of what's happening - Be ready to go as soon as an Evac Warning is issued:


  • Red Flag (or Flash Flood Warning) means Get Ready!
  • Evac Warning means Go Now!
  • Evac Order means it may be too late to evacuate equines and livestock safely, you must put your SIP plan into action.
  • Evac Order means unauthorized helpers (and usually, owners) cannot go beyond a roadblock.
  • Once an Evac Order is in place, it may not be possible to evacuate equines and livestock safely. Don't wait to Evacuate!


ACTION ITEM: Get a NOAA radio with the "S.A.M.E." Alert feature and learn how to use it.

6. How to get alerts and what they mean

Sign up for all local alerts. Go to County Emergency Services website.


  • Do you have a NOAA weather radio with "S.A.M.E." alert feature?
  • Are your AM/FM radios pre-set to local news channels? (including car)
  • Does your community use sirens?
  • Do you have a neighborhood (or barn, or business) phone tree?
  • Do you have out- of-area contacts you use when local phone services are disabled?
  • Do you have a buddy system / network for communications in your area?


7. Sheltering in Place - Safety and survival

Have you considered every occurrence that might impact you and your equines? (Including extended power outages)


  • Do you have "safe places" at home or nearby?
  • Do you have all the supplies you need for you and your animals to stay healthy if you are without power or help for at least 7-10 days?
  • Does your local fire and/or Sheriff department know who might be sheltered on your property, including the animals? (DAP Map)
  • Are you aware of potential hazards? (Fuel tanks, chemicals, dangerous trees, unsafe electrical connections, old septic tanks or wells)


ACTION ITEM: Make a fire-safe place for your equines & livestock.

8. Helping the Whole Community - Include Spanish-speakers, workers, elderly and less-able residents:


  • Do your workers know the plans for your animals?
  • Do your workers have what they need to stay safe and healthy?
  • Is there a "safety net" for older and disabled neighbors and their animals?


ACTION ITEM: Create a network using the most reliable ways to communicate in your area.

9. Local Resources and Information: ACTION ITEMS!

Research local riding clubs, boarding stables, feed stores, rodeo and horse show facilities, 4-H and FFA Leaders, commercial equine transportation companies, animal sanctuary organizations.

Make a list of contacts and keep it updated.

10. Helpful Preparedness Tools

HALTER Project (Disaster Action Plan binders, Go-Bag checklists, Evac and SIP videos, horse handling for firefighters, Family Communication Plan forms, Spanish-language info and more)

Cal Fire Ready for Wildfire

California Firesafe Council

Alert Wildfire (North Bay Fire Lookout Cameras)

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