With the haze from western wildfires so thick here in Boulder this week (we can't even see the Rocky Mountains) and clean-up in Texas and LA after hurricane 'Harvey' - with another hurricane headed to Puerto Rico and possibly the land mass Florida - it's hard not to think of disaster preparedness for your pet care business. Today's news reveals that natural disasters can happen pretty much anywhere, so it pays to make plans regardless of your geography.
IBPSA and Ben Day, a business safety consultant published a blog two years ago outlining some important points regarding weather emergency preparations for pet care facilities. We think it's timely to include some of these points here.
First, "Designate Your Emergency Leaders and Locations"
Designate a team member responsible for monitoring weather updates to communicate to the rest of the staff.
Clearly identify to the staff the person with the authority to begin an evacuation so there is no question who is in charge.
Before disaster hits, you should already have identified an alternative location to take your animals if your building is destroyed or rendered temporarily unusable.
Second, prepare your facility for weather-related emergencies.
If you are in the north, ensure you have functioning generators and heaters.
If you are in warm climates, ensure your backup generators work, and that you have fans and other cooling devices that will function off these generators.
Test these items and systems quarterly to ensure they are running and have fuel.
Other key items:
at least 5-days of back-up water and food for your typical occupancy of pets.
food and water for your staff.
Third, "Organize your “Survival Gear” for an evacuation.
What will you need to evacuate a pet care facility? Start with:
Owner contact information
Medical records (if you are heading to another kennel facility).
The IBPSA blog continues with this advice: "make sure your owner contact information and related pet client records are always kept in a safe, off-premises location either by storing “in the cloud” or by regular back-up to a separate drive kept at separate location.
As cloud-based pet care software providers, we add this: set up a wifi 'hot-spot' device so you can access the internet even when the local internet goes down. You'll still need power, so ensure your generator is working (see above). Additionally, practice using a wifi hot-spot off of your phone.
Ensure the safety of your staff and human guests is as important as that of your pet-guests.
Click here to learn about strategies for pet care facilities to prepare for various weather emergencies like hurricanes, http://www.ibpsa.com/pet-care-facility-weather-emergency-preparedness-youre-ready-right/
Additionally, check out the Humane Society's article on Disaster Planning for Animal Care Facilities: https://www.apnm.org/publications/general_articles/disaster_planning/HSUS%20disaster%20planning%20for%20animal%20facilities.pdf
This article includes an excellent check-list of items and issues to address when planning and preparing for weather and other emergencies.
As the Scouts say, 'be prepared'. It's your job as a pet care professional to be ready for weather emergencies. - Andy