02 September 2010

Veterinary Association reminds Americans to include animals in emergency planning

In case you weren’t aware, September is National Preparedness Month—unfortunately if you are the ill-prepared type you probably didn’t know that—and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) along with the month long event’s sponsor, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Ready Campaign, are urging Americans to "take action now" and have a plan in place.

But while you are stocking your shelves with jugs of water, canned foods, first aid kits and a crank radio don’t forget about your animals—that includes livestock.

If you feel overwhelmed with your emergency preparedness planning don’t worry, the AVMA has created an online booklet detailing the steps you should take to ensure that you have a plan in place for your whole family. Here are a few tidbits from the pdf file:

• Assemble an animal evacuation kit.
• Develop an evacuation plan for all of your animals and practice the plan.
• If you live in an apartment, make sure your animals are on record with management and are able to evacuate via the stairwell. Dogs should be taught to go up and down stairs to better assist rescue personnel.
• Keep written directions to your home near your telephone. This will help you and others explain to emergency responders exactly how to get to your home.
• Identify alternate sources of food and water.
• Have well maintained backup generators for use in food-animal production operations.
• Keep all vehicles well maintained and full of gas.
• Keep emergency cash on hand.
• If you have horses or livestock, good barn and field maintenance can reduce danger. Decide on the safest housing location if evacuation is impossible, realizing that the situation is still life threatening. Assess the stability and safety of barns and other structures, promptly remove dead trees, and minimize debris in the fields and immediate environment.
"It is often too late to react properly to an emergency or disaster – either natural or manmade – after the fact, and things become even more hectic when pets or other animals are involved," AVMA President Dr. Larry Kornegay said. "That's why the AVMA believes it is critically important for everyone to have an emergency plan in place – and to practice that plan. Being prepared is some of the best insurance you can have when it comes to dealing with an emergency situation and minimizing the trauma."

Don’t wait until it’s too late, make your plan, right now.

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