I live in a part of the world that likes to burst into flames now and then. Our fire season normally comes along around fall, after a long, dry summer. We get these Santa Ana winds, hot dry conditions, but this year we skipped spring and summer entirely. The calendar hasn’t caught up yet, but the weather follows some other system. Fires get started, the wind jumps in and we pretty much expect that people we know will need help. I’m always paying attention to the places people can go with their pets when evacuated. And that is where having an EEP comes in handy.
Had our neighborhood been threatened, Mike is at home, and I would get there as quickly as I could. My employer has been very sensitive to the needs of people to check on their homes, pets, and loved ones. Also schools are closed, and while the YMCA offered free child care to those impacted by the fire, they quickly ran out of space. So some people had to be home with their kids, keeping calm.
My biggest concern is that we have two small cars. They are hatchbacks, and we can stuff a lot into them, but as many birds as we have will be difficult. So the first thing to do is locate someone with a truck or van or trailer to help evacuate the birds.
I sat down and figured out how many carriers or cages we would need. Squishing birds into emergency accommodations, we still need 25 separate containers. We might get most of them in our vehicles, but it would be better to have a backup. Because that would not leave any room for people clothes and so on.
With 25 cages or carriers, we need 25 waterers, 25 food dishes, food, bottled water, nets, cat food, and other things. Here’s how I envision things would go:
I head home as quickly as possible.
Mike is already stuffing birds into travel carriers or small cages.
I gather waterers and food dishes.
I get water bottles and food ready to go.
Mike starts loading cages and carriers into the cars.
Mike gets frustrated that we can’t load everything in our small cars.
I call the friend who has the truck, and they are on the way.
Friend arrives, we finish loading birds, cat, food, and making sure all the doors on the cages have clips.
I realize we need clothes for us, toiletries, medication, some food, tea, sweetener, and sparkling waters.
Noise of the birds in the small cars is indescribable.
We figure out where to go. The possibilities are the fair grounds in Del Mar, houses of friends from the bird club who are not in the fire zone, and Alaska. As far as I know, Alaska doesn’t burn very often. Also relatives, but that’s a last ditch scenario.
Before we can take off, we get the alert on our cell phones that the evacuation order for our neighborhood has been lifted.
Reverse all the steps above.
Think more about downsizing.
There’s always a chance of losing birds due to the air quality or the stress if we do evacuate. Currently I have 4 budgie chicks that I would hate to move, and four zebra finch eggs that might actually hatch if we leave them alone long enough. I feel especially blessed that the fires never came closer than three miles from my home, and that was a small fire that was contained quickly.
The Red Cross web page has tips on making a plan for your family. http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/plan
As well as Ready.gov http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
And Today’s Mama: http://todaysmama.com/2012/04/4-printable-emergency-plan-templates/
The ASPCA has special plans that include the fur and feather folks: http://www.aspcapro.org/resource/disaster-cruelty-disaster-response/sample-plans-evacuation-and-sheltering
You may not have a high opinion of FEMA, but this guide is thorough: http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/648
And after an emergency, be sure to watch for lost or stray animals, so you can help get the pets back to the families. Stay safe, don’t approach an animal that looks scared or angry. Call the local Animal Control and let the professionals take care of things.
I hear that, as usual when we have an early hot spell, that an El Nino weather system is on the way come winter. I love that, with rain steady and plentiful. But after a fire, it means mud slides in the areas where the vegetation was burned, and the roots no longer hold the soil in place. So I’ll keep these plans handy, and see you on Wednesday!