Emergency preparedness: On a day like this, only the birds are flying away. Now is a good time to prepare for emergencies. Plan ahead. Act ahead.
For emergency evacuation
- Have a plan with a check off list; when you are stressed you forget the darnedest things.
- Be prepared: Have bags packed, ready to go in an instant. Include meds with prescription numbers. If possible have back up prescriptions, non-perishible food – for people and animals, also packed. Have water and/or water purification equipment. Have your first aid kit handy. Keep enough cash on hand to fund your travel for a week at least. If electricity is down, a credit card may do you no good. Consider sleeping bags and mats, and other camping equipment. You just don’t know. If you get to a shelter and they turn you away because you brought your parrot, you may be driving for a long time, and even sleeping – on the road.
- Have critical animal equipment packed and ready to go: food, water, feed/water bowls, leads, collars, muzzles, medications, heartworm preventative, beds/kennels, nail trimmers,
- Keep your car tank at least half full, and top off, as possible. There is nothing like running low on fuel at 10 pm when about to cross the Appalachian Mountains, with your 80 year old mother, and while towing a dog trailer which makes your vehicle about 35 feet long – for maneuvering on back roads, in the dark, in the mountain. Ask me how I know.
And while there is no emergency…
- Cultivate your emergency network. With the help of other animal people, find places you can retreat to, in multiple directions, at various distances. Perhaps these will be the same people who will care for your animals if you are suddenly incapacitated. Confronted with hurricane Irma, many people had to go beyond their first retreat locations – because those people were retreating also.
- Have alternative power – both at home, and on the road for charging equipment, even if you run out of gas.
- Get flood insurance and content insurance, even if you think you don’t need it.
- Photograph belongings in all rooms, with emphasis on expensive and essential technical items, uploaded on a card to take, and to another site. Back up all computers/archives. Scan important documents. Keep originals in a waterproof container, ready to grab and go. Mine are backed up by a professional service, and also to two different drives on my location.
- Keep abreast of risk projections in your area. Two helpful resources:
On being pre-packed:
As someone who has travelled a lot, with and without animals, I have learned some pros and cons relative to pre-packing.
Generally, I don’t ever need my emergency equipment, even in emergencies. Life has been good. This means that I need to make a point of routinely checking, rotating and using my emergency equipment. It is a pain, but necessary. Things tend to travel away from their places when you least expect to find them missing. Things deteriorate, become too small or too large, dry out, fade, etc. Also, it is important to practice with emergency gear. Make sure you can change fuses, use your water purification systems, put up your tents, and use a compass accurately, to name a few examples.
Also, my favorite things to take, in an emergency, are some of the things I use every day. So, I do not want to just put all those things in a bag and never use them, until there is an emergency. My answer is to keep my ‘roll-on-back-pack’ packed as my portable office, at all times. It has my ‘desk’, my documentation equipment, and some emergency overnight supplies. My phone lives there, My spare glasses live there. It takes me less than a minute to check it and get out the door. This bag is very well travelled and has lasted over ten years. It is my second one, and I love it. It is a Samsonite and cost about $80, and was worth every penny. I was going to post the link here, but they no longer sell it!
Beyond my personal bag, I keep certain things pre-packed where they are most often used. Consider my truck, Hank Martyson, for example
Truck (used to haul dog trailer on work or emergency travel
Your needs may be different, but here is one example of how to organize a vehicle for emergency travel. When things have an assigned place, it is easy to check at a glance to be sure you have everything you need. You can also find things without light, or even without looking. When things are not crowded, it is easier to use them and keep them organized.
- Driver door pocket – seat belt cutter, flashlight
- Driver side rear door pocket – locks and tow accessories for trailer
- Driver seat: husband who likes to drive. Priceless! (even unpacks himself!)
- Passenger door pocket – seat belt cutter, flash light, dog bags
- Passenger side rear door pocket – dog leads, collars, frisbee, balls
- Back seat – personal luggage, 2 pcs plus pillow, tripod, behind your own seat
- Mid seat – 3 thermal food bags, one cool, one dry and a small one easy to pull into front seat for meals/snacks on the road, umbrella hangs; travel pillows hang from seat backs, as do jackets (special hooks https://tinyurl.com/headresthook)
- Under back seat – emergency shovels, flares, tarp, blankets, nitrile and work gloves
- Glove compartment – car records/documentation, pen, notebook, spare glasses, magnet stick, mirror stick, tire gauge
- Console – gps, wet wipes, toll change, chargers etc in small organizer pouch, glue for trim, fuses
- Maps – pouch behind driver so navigator can reach them
- Windshield shades – pouch behind passenger so driver can reach them
- EZPass on windshield
- Dash handle- 2 soft cups, 1 with pens, pencils, nail clippers, tweezers, magnifying glass, and one with straws, napkins and plastic utensils, toothpicks
Note on luggage: Both roll, one can be stacked on the other, One is portable office (but also has essential stuff for overnight – change of socks, underwear, night shirt, toothbrush, etc, other is clothes and toiletries. Clothes are rolled and placed so and I can see what I have by opening the bag and looking down. I have a packing list for each bag, and each item has its own place, which is extremely helpful for making sure I have everything needed before leaving a place.
In the truck, all stays in place, except food and personal luggage.
At home, my personal luggage is mostly always packed. I just have to check it, and load, for each trip.
Food bags are emptied between trips, and bags go back into truck for grocery trips.
Dog trailer is similarly organized, and carries water, food, bowls, travel beds, collapsable crates, tie outs, extra bedding straw, trailer supplies (spare lights, lens, electrical tape, etc) and drinks, in bulk, for us (case of water, case of V-8, for example). There is also plenty of room to bring honey back from Florida, cheese back from Arkansas, apples from New York, etc.
We have a car care basket, which is easy to move between vehicles, an emergency bin (rain suits, space blanket, gloves, nitrile gloves etc), and a dog bin and a horse bin, each full of training and care items. These are optional for emergency trips, but easy to load and take for training trips.
In short, we can leave the house in two hours from start of loading to pulling away with the trailer. We are working to improve this time.
However, this is a limited plan. This plan does not include materials for camping, cooking, food supplies, water purification, back ups for emergency papers and digital archives, etc. We are considering these things now. We have looked at human trailers, and RVs, but the truth is, you can stay in many a nice hotel room for less than it costs for a trailer, and with our dog trailer, our dogs are well taken care of already. And, being animal owners, we may never be able to rely on public shelters, or even hotels.
Stay safe. Be as prepared as realistically possible, and keep out of reach of trouble.
Next: Water ‘proofing’ critical papers, phones, etc We took papers in hard, protective boxes – pain in the behind. Also, we see the need for some special packs that are kept ready for specific types of trips. For example, for plane travel, we want travel pillows, luggage scale, passports, and international electrical adapter. For work travel, I need some office equipment and paperwork, Etc. More later.