No one enjoys contemplating dire circumstances that could endanger the lives of loved ones, friends, or pets, especially parrots. These kinds of experiences can, to say the least, be strenuous, distressing, and frightening. However, making preparations in advance and preparing for situations in which you will need to respond rapidly to save lives, whether they be human or avian, can help make the experience safer and less stressful overall.
The term “emergency readiness” refers to a wide variety of circumstances, and it is impossible to be ready for each and every one of them. An emergency could be something as inconsequential as a prolonged power outage during the winter, as highly personal as a fire in one’s own home, or as generally dangerous as a wildfire, flood, wind storm, volcanic eruption, or earthquake.
The fundamental objective of emergency readiness planning is to simply be as ready as possible in the event of an evacuation or the loss of typical day-to-day conveniences like utilities, phones, or even a reliable transportation system. This is the primary goal of emergency preparedness planning. You can’t possibly be ready for everything, so you’ll just have to learn to be flexible, be innovative, and improvise.
As a result of the Miller’s Reach fire in 1996, which was responsible for the destruction of a large area to the north of Anchorage, it became painfully obvious in Alaska that in addition to the predetermined plans for humans, some kind of orderly emergency response process was necessary for animals. During the course of the fire, there was a significant outpouring of support from the general population; nevertheless, this assistance was frequently unorganized and, at times, unsuccessful. On top of that, some people were forced to sleep in their cars with their pets because the human shelters would not let them come inside with their animals because of health and safety concerns.
PEPPA, which stands for People for Emergency Preparedness Planning for Animals in Alaska, was established in August 1996, two months after the Miller’s Reach fire as a direct response to the events described above. PEPPA’s mission is to provide emergency response sheltering and veterinary assistance for animals that have been affected by disasters. This will be accomplished through collaboration with other volunteer organizations that have been brought together under the umbrella group known as Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD).
The subject of animal disaster preparedness has been brought up in a variety of settings around the country ever since the PEPPA was first established. Numerous municipal and state administrations have either already incorporated provisions for animals into their disaster response plans or are in the process of determining how to do so. Even the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) understands how crucial it is to take into account the requirements of animals in the event of a disaster.
In addition to the self-evident requirement that we take care of our non-human companions, there are three major advantages for emergency response groups that can be gained from including animals in disaster response planning: 1) People who have evacuated their animals are less likely to return to a dangerous area to retrieve their pets, an act that puts them in danger as well as any emergency response personnel who have to retrieve or rescue them; 2) People who have evacuated their animals tend to leave with less delay if their animals are allowed to evacuate with them; and 3) People who are in emergency shelters tend to experience lower levels of stress when their loved ones and animals are safe.
Nevertheless, while emergency response agencies are of tremendous assistance in the event of calamities, WE are the first line of defense in protecting our family, whether they be human or otherwise. It is of the utmost significance for those who own pets to ensure they have the necessary supplies on hand and to practice responding to different types of crises and evacuations. When a severe tragedy strikes, the ability to fend for oneself and one’s animals for the first three to four days can make a significant impact on the quality of life for all parties.
First things first: put together a disaster kit for your human family! There is a wealth of information about what should be included in your disaster survival pack available from local emergency services, FEMA, and the American Red Cross. You won’t be of much use to your birds if you can’t even take care of yourself and your family, let alone your feathered friends!
In conclusion, a number of the principles and suggestions included in this presentation are based on the assumption that you have some form of emergency evacuation shelter available for your birds. This could be the house of a friend or family member, or it could be a shelter set up by organizations that help in times of distress. Check with the folks who handle emergency situations in your area to find out what their plan is for dealing with animals. Make your own plans if they give you the “deer in the headlights” look, and then get involved in your community to help make emergency shelters a reality if they continue to give you that look.
What Do I Need, And What Do I Do With It?
In the event of an emergency, in addition to the supplies that have been stored away for human use, the following are some suggestions for bird-related products that should be kept on hand. Keep in mind that the quantity and kinds of items that are described here may need to be altered in order to accommodate your flock! Additionally, it is preferable to have a few items in excess of what is required, but not so many that it becomes difficult to transfer the supplies.
WATER: Large birds require one to two quarts of water every day for drinking and bathing purposes. A decent rule of thumb is to keep note of how much water you give your birds each day, double that amount, and then save enough water for seven days. Keep track of how much water you give your birds each day.
Put away enough food for a week’s worth of consumption. It is important to store foods that are considered “dry,” such as pelleted diets, pasta, seeds, and dehydrated fruits and vegetables, in airtight containers. Alternately, on a regular basis, transfer some of the food intended for emergency use into the daily supply of food, and stock the emergency containers with fresh food. Do not make the assumption that there will be kitchen facilities available for the preparation of special foods; if you take refuge in your own home, it is possible that you may not have electricity or gas for cooking or refrigeration, and an emergency shelter may not have a kitchen at all.
SPRAY BOTTLE: used for disinfecting and hydrating the birds
DISHES FOR FOOD AND WATER: Something that won’t break easily and can be washed quickly.
GARBAGE BAGS, PAPER TOWELS, AND BIRD-SAFE DISINFECTANT: for general cage and carrier cleaning. GARBAGE BAGS: for general cage and carrier cleaning. A solution of 1:20 bleach to water, known as Nolvasan, OxyFresh recommends that you use a disinfectant that you are already familiar with in the event of an emergency.
MODELS OF PORTABLE CAGES OR CARRIERS THAT CAN BE FLATTENED ARE Currently Available for Purchase, Much Like Kennels Used for Air Travel. There are several veterinarians and pet supply companies that carry specialized cardboard containers for animals. Put your name and address on the carrier using a marker that won’t wash off, or put it on a tag that’s attached to the carrier or the cage.
CAGE COVERS: You can use old sheets or huge towels successfully in their place. In the event of an emergency during chilly weather, blankets might be a better choice. Even if you do not regularly cover your bird at night, it is still a good idea to have an emergency cover handy. This is because your bird may be able to see other birds and animals in the shelter, which will bring more stress to a situation that is already unpleasant.
TOWELS are used to bind birds so that they can be handled, examined, or treated. A lot of people would rather have their bird held in a towel that they brought from home rather than one that had been previously used on another bird.
NEWSPAPER: or another material that is safe for birds and can be readily thrown away as cage or carrier lining.
TOYS FOR THE CAGE Choose something that is either already present in the regular cage or is comparable to the toys found in the regular cage. The upheaval caused by conditions requiring special sheltering or evacuation may be eased as a result of this.
MEDICINES: Store all of your pet’s medications in a single area in your home, preferably in a watertight container that can be easily taken with you when you leave the house. Keep any specific instructions for the administration of medications and any other relevant medical history with the medicine itself or with the documentation that identifies the patient.
AVIAN FIRST AID KIT: this can be the standard kit that is intended for use at home, or more preferably, an emergency kit that is kept with the other supplies intended for use in an emergency.
DOCUMENTATION FOR BIRD IDENTIFICATION: ideally, you should have two images of each bird; one should be kept by you, and the other should be given to the bird. On the back of each photo, you can write important information such as your name, phone number, address, a description of the bird, the bird’s name, a microchip ID if applicable, a tattoo ID if applicable, the number of your pet insurance policy, the number on the bird’s leg band, and any other information that connects your bird to you.
BABY BIRD SUPPLIES: If you have breeding pairs of birds, you should also make preparations for baby bird emergency supplies. Keep a stock of hand feeding formula in storage and change it at regular intervals. A supply of syringes, spoons, pipettes, or anything else that is utilized to feed the newborns should also be kept on hand. Put the infants in some kind of portable and long-lasting emergency brooder, such as a plastic container or a bucket that holds 2 and a half gallons of liquid. Also, think about getting a heat source for the infants: a heating pad is acceptable if there is electricity available; a hot water bottle can also be used if there is a method to heat water; a chemical “heat pack” is a third possibility that may be stored until it is required to be utilized.
WHAT DO I PUT ALL THIS STUFF IN?
The best place to keep emergency avian supplies is in a large Rubbermaid storage container or a large garbage can with a lid. A pet carrier, kennel, or box can also be utilized for the storage of supplies.
Check to see whether the supplies as well as the birds will fit inside your vehicle! An evacuation situation is not the time to find out that the well planned emergency supplies you have cannot be transported in your vehicle. If it turns out to be essential, establish plans with your family and friends to provide transportation in case of an emergency. Make sure you have backup plans for your mode of transportation, as well as backup-backup preparations.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
In the same way that you should practice getting your family out of a burning building quickly and safely, you should also practice getting your birds out. Because the evacuation drill could be upsetting to your birds, you might want to consider practicing with toy animals instead. You also have the option of making the exercises more like games for your birds. This will make it much simpler for you to control them in the event that there is a true evacuation. You are going to have to figure out the most effective approach to taking care of emergency drills involving the members of your animal family.
In the event that a rapid evacuation is required, spending time putting together pet carriers or portable cages could be a waste of precious time; therefore, it is best to try to store these items in a constructed state. If this is not an option, you can consider using plastic strips labeled as “cable ties” to connect the top and bottom of pet carrier shells to one another. A pillow case or a little cloth bag could be used as an alternative for birds; the pet carriers or cages can be erected later, and the evacuees can be transferred from the bags to them from the pillow cases or small cloth bags. The ultimate objective is to have emergency evacuation containers that are practically immediately ready in the event that they are required.
SHELTER-IN-PLACE: If you want to make sure that your home is a secure place to live, you should follow the usual guidelines. If you use supplemental heating, cooking, or power generation equipment, you need to be sure that it has proper ventilation to prevent a dangerous accumulation of carbon monoxide. Otherwise, you could put yourself and others in danger.
It is possible that animal assistance organizations will not be engaged during the evacuation. Discuss possible housing options for your pet in the event of an emergency with your family, friends, and/or veterinarian in advance.
SHELTER-IN-PLACE: If you want to make sure that your home is a secure place to live, you should follow the usual guidelines. If you use supplemental heating, cooking, or power generation equipment, you need to be sure that it has proper ventilation to prevent a dangerous accumulation of carbon monoxide. Otherwise, you could put yourself and others in danger. Because it is possible that it will be between 72 and 96 hours before comprehensive recovery efforts are initiated, you should be ready to provide food and shelter for your family and flock for at least that amount of time.
EVACUATION: Pay attention to the radio for advice on where to evacuate and take shelter. It is possible that standard transportation routes would not be available; therefore, it is important to arrange for alternative routes. Bring your birds to the first available safe haven or animal evacuation center as soon as possible.
If you own or have easy access to a recreational vehicle such as a camper, trailer, or motor home, it is possible that this vehicle could serve as an excellent emergency shelter for you. The effectiveness of this shelter will depend on the size of the vehicle as well as the heating and ventilation systems that it contains.
EVACUATION AND THE SHELTER ENVIRONMENT
In the event that you are forced to evacuate and go to a public shelter, keep in mind that these facilities are solely intended for human occupants. For reasons related to public health and safety, it is not possible for humans and animals to coexist in such a facility. Because of this, an emergency shelter for animals will most likely be housed in a building of its own if one has been set up at all. In a situation that is considered to be “normal,” the first thing you will do is register your pet at the facility that caters to animals, and then you will register yourself with the organization that runs the shelter for people.
Depending on the gravity of the situation and the breadth of its impact, you should get ready for a situation at the shelter that resembles “managed anarchy.” At the facility that deals with animals, there should always be access to veterinarians and/or emergency veterinary technicians. There will be a system in place for performing animal triage, in which sick or injured animals will be stabilized before being taken to veterinary facilities, while healthy animals will be moved to secure housing.
In the emergency shelter, life will be odd and difficult, which will be made much more difficult by the fact that you will be worried for your human and animal family members. It all depends on the nature of the emergency as to whether or not you will be able to visit your pets in the shelter where they are being housed. For this reason, as well as to assist in reuniting you with your companion animal once the emergency situation has been resolved, it is essential to be able to link each animal to their respective human.
Because of this, it is very necessary to have a photo of your animal, your name and address written on the carrier or cage, and any other information that can be used as a backup for identification purposes.
To summarize, you should take care of your family’s emergency preparedness plan first, then work on your kit for the birds; be flexible in how you can respond to an emergency; prepare to take care of yourself and your family (human and otherwise) for up to 96 hours; and practice evacuations so that the process will be easier to deal with when it is time to deal with the real thing.
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