Developed by Fran Etzkorn, retired fire chief for High Country volunteer fire department in Gilpin County and Jerry Dunn, former High Country fire captain.
Do you have a plan that you have shared with your family and neighbors to evacuate your loved ones and animals in case of a disaster? Following are guidelines for such a plan.
- Decide which animals are to be evacuated first. You may only get one chance! Remember the family house pets.
- Make arrangements for housing for your animals before a disaster.
- Family pets need I.D. collars and should be transported in travel crates with leashes. Crate them before the confusion starts.
- Always back your vehicle into your driveway facing the exit, in front of your trailer if possible.
- Practice hitching your trailer. Check brakes and air in tires on a regular basis.
- Determine a safe staging area with extra stall panels.
- Practice backing your trailer into the loading area.
- Train all of your animals to lead and load into a trailer.
- Provide barnyard lighting with a backup in case the power goes off.
- Mark driving lanes for the rescuers with construction cones.
- Mark pick up point and/or the driveway with long streamers of surveyors tape.
- Provide orange vests with ANIMAL RESCUE printed on them with a black magic marker. This reduces confusion if the fire company is there at the same time.
- Organize halters and lead ropes on a pegboard in the barn hallway.
- Print up a list of all of your animals and make copies. Photograph your herd and keep it with your master list. Organize your herd into groups (geldings, studs, moms, and babies). Who should go first?
- Make plans for your animals if it is too late to transport them to a safe area.
- Get to know your volunteer fire department. Attend work parties and give them a copy of your evacuation plan. Ask for suggestions.
- Involve another reliable person, neighbor, or close friend in your plan. With one phone call, that person can set your plan into action.
- Develop a phone tree of people who hopefully will not be involved in their own rescue. Provide a highlighted map to your place with the entry and exit plan. Make copies for all rescuers. Keep it simple and safe.
- Make a list of how many animals each rescuer can transport and safely house.
- Give each rescuer your vet's name and telephone number.
- Keep a copy of all of the information on a clipboard with extra pens and pencils, tape, orange vests, and a flashlight in a place where your number one helper can find it. This list is to document “who went where” for later verification. You might not be home. One person needs to be in charge of the list on the clipboard as the rescue begins.
- Carefully review your plan with all of the helpers.
The volunteers need to be clear about their responsibilities. Encourage them to practice backing their vehicle and trailer. Suggest that they have a special backpack in their vehicle which includes the following:
- Drinking water
- Emergency food and snacks
- Flashlights and/or headlamps
- Sturdy footwear
- Hat, leather gloves, warm coat, rain gear, bandanna
- Extra lead ropes, stake lines, halters
- Surveyors tape
- First aid kit
Plan in Action:
- All markers in place
- Take a deep breath and stay calm!
- Begin catching and sorting animals.
- Clipboard person puts on vest and begins the list with the first rescuer.
- When the last of the animals are loaded--get out of there!
When should you evacuate? Before it's too late!
You also need to plan what will be taken or moved from your home.
- Driver's Licenses / Birth Certificates / Passports / Insurance Papers / Bank Documents / Tax records
- Special Medications / spare glasses / hearing aids
- Family pictures / Keepsakes / Jewelry / other Valuables
It might be wise to keep all of these things in one or two locations so they can be easily collected and stowed in your vehicle, quickly.