Hurricane season is beginning here in Florida, and forecasters are predicting an active season. While I am located in central Florida and don’t expect to see the severe weather the coast might see, hurricanes do, in fact, travel inland. I grew up in the northeast and lived a good part of my life in Chicago so I am accustomed to severe storms and oceans of snow. The south offers some new challenges to which I don’t feel particularly accustomed.
The clouds, both here and in Texas, don’t seem to know how to issue forth a light rain. It comes hammering down in torrents, and adding gale force winds to that scenario just gives me the creeps. And even though I don’t have a lack of heating to contend with during a power outage for most of the year, a lack of A/C is even more dangerous for me and the birds in this climate.
How to prepare:
Have an evacuation plan. What disaster possibilities exist in your area of the world? Tornadoes? Flooding? Fires? Do you have an escape route planned, and an alternative in the event that your primary route is clogged with traffic? Can you quickly load your family and pets to an interior room for cover or into a vehicle for a fast getaway? Do you know where everything you’ll need is? The key to a successful and safe evacuation lies in your preparation.
It’s a good plan to have a neighbor you can count on if you should ever be trapped away from home. Your neighbor can check in on and feed your birds in your absence. Be sure he knows where everything is, should he have to evacuate your birds, and give them written permission to have a vet treat them should it be necessary.
What to bring:
- First aid kit
- A travel cage/carrier for each bird – (if you house small birds together, it would be okay to put two together in a travel cage as long as you watch them. A stressful situation can cause longtime cage-mates to fight.) Pillow cases will work in an emergency. Bring at least one set of extra dishes per cage/carrier.
- Covers for each cage or carrier – (this allows them privacy and cuts down on their stress.)
- 7 day supply of non-perishable food and fresh water stored in plastic containers (if you bring canned veggies for your birds, don’t forget the can opener!)
- Clean towels
- Any medications and means to administer them (don’t forget about your own!)
- Copies of each bird’s current medical records
- Clear, descriptive photos of each bird, depicting any distinguishing features. Bring several copies of each.
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Battery powered radio and/or police scanner
- List of pet-friendly hotels
- Check to see if the refuge/shelter you will be using will accept your pets. Here’s a link to United Animal Nations.
- List of contacts: your vet, your personal physician, emergency contacts and family contacts
What to do before you leave the house:
As you are loading your birds, remember not to place cages close enough together where one bird might injure another. Sometimes carriers are better than travel cages for this reason. Some of your birds might travel better when covered. Have food and water easily accessible and keep your radio tuned in for weather condition or traffic updates. Know that where you are headed will accept your birds and other pets.
In the event of an approaching hurricane or storm, you will have some time to plan and take action. Remove anything from the yard that could be picked up by the wind an hurled into property. Board up your windows. Remember to shut off your electricity and gas and water mains. Finally, make sure your doors are locked.
Note: While you are on the road, if you should happen to come across any dead companion animals, please take the time to stop to photograph them. Someone out there is searching for their missing pet. Make note of any distinguishing features and remove their collar for identification and contact information.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.