Any given emergency event will have its own set of unique circumstances. One instance may require evacuation while another requires remaining where you are. There are many studies that conclude that people who plan for emergencies fare better than those who do not.
For either scenario:
Pay attention to media reports and follow their instructions. Keep in mind that police and fire department personnel circling your neighborhood may announce a localized event. In addition, there are phone apps that issue live alerts. The free apps I installed on my phone include the following:
My local news station
Emergency Radio Free
Code Red Mobile Alert
The apps I have paid for include the following:
Pet Tech Pet CPR, First Aid, and Care – it summarizes pet first aid techniques as well as has a veterinarian locator.
Pet Poison Helpline – it will dial their hotline. As minutes matter in a poisoning, this could save the life of a pet.
Add to the employee/shop manual the following:
Phone number to your local or regional Emergency Management Office. This office offers many resources including Community Emergency Response Training, information on the State Animal Response Teams, as well as the location of the designated people and/or animal shelters. The shelter locations may change periodically.
Detachable checklist for both evacuations and remaining at your location. Detailed instructions clearly indicating what needs to be done will reduce stress and streamline either process.
Reference materials from FEMA.gov, the Red Cross, and Groomer to Groomer magazine.
Four directional driving instructions with pet-friendly hotels marked along the way.
Encourage preparedness by reviewing the emergency protocols as outlined in your shop manual, including practice drills on a regular basis. Possible practice drills include loading pets into crates and vehicles, clearly identifying pets with owner and shop name, and ensuring the evacuation kit is filled and ready to go. The more you practice, the better prepared you and your staff will be.
Suggested continuing education, such as Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) as well as local emergency preparedness workshops, are offered at trade shows and Adult Education programs. CERT is a 20-hour program paid for by our tax dollars and will prepare you for emergencies. It is usually taught by the Fire or Emergency Management Office Personnel. I highly recommend this training.
Suggested kit items include the following:
Pet first aid kit – In the January 2014 issue of Groomer to Groomer, there is a detailed article on pet first aid kit contents.
Client files on any pets that are in your care – It should include waivers, contact information, as well as any pertinent medical conditions.
Bottled water – I prefer Smart Water™ as it replaces lost electrolytes due to stress. I watch for sales and stock up on it.
Dry and packaged food for both pets and people – While it is better to have the pets’ normal food available, as it will reduce gastric upset due to stress, it may not be possible for client pets.
Set of muzzles – As this can be a stressful time for the pet, it may incite poor behavioral issues, as well as bite reflexes.
Fully charged fire extinguisher
Old blankets for warmth and as a comfort item – Items that have a scent of home or of something familiar can reduce anxiety in a pet.
Water and food dishes
Cleaning supplies, including bleach – 10% bleach is a disinfectant and 16 drops of bleach to a gallon will purify drinking water.
Shampoo to wash off contaminants.
Glow sticks and/or flashlights with spare batteries.
Travel crates to transport pets safely.
Specific kitty supplies such as litter, Frisbees (they can serve as portable litter pans), and shampoos.
Store items in an easily transported container such as a plastic can with wheels. Anything that is normally used in a shop that would have to be added to the kit should be listed on the detachable checklist.
If you are asked to evacuate, please do so. Many people were swept away during Hurricane Sandy because they did not heed the warnings. Take all pets with you; residents were not allowed back into New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina for several weeks. If it is not safe for us, it is not safe for them.
Detach evacuation checklist
Load up vehicle with pets and supplies
Decide on which driving direction
Post sign on door informing clients where you are heading and name of hotel or location of designated pet shelter, along with your cell number.
Contact clients with your travel information.
Turn off utilities before you leave and remember NOT to turn them back on without an inspection by the utility company when you return.
If you are unable to evacuate or are instructed to remain, you now prepare for any grooming clients to become boarding clients. Owners may be unable to reach your shop to pick up their pets. Contact owners and keep them up to date.
Emergency situations can impact the pets in our care as well. Pets under duress are at risk for stress-related injuries including bites, fighting, seizures, and heart attacks, and diabetic pets can go into either hypoglycemia or ketone acidosis. The better prepared we are means we can address the event in a calm manner. The more relaxed we are, the result will be a less stressed pet.