“6 ways to keep your pet safer during the COVID-19 crisis.” by Melissa Tompkins, BS, CVPM, PHRca

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Photo by RK Jajoria on Pexels.com

The COVID-19 crisis has changed our lives in many ways, and one of them is how much time we are spending with our pets.  Many states and counties are “sheltering in place” so we are home all the time.  I know many of us are trying to stay as busy as possible but let us be honest, we are bored.  As a result, we are walking our dogs more to get out of the house and spend some time outdoors.  Our dogs love all the time we are spending with them, but there are things to consider before taking your dog outside around other people, other pets, and even wildlife.

“My dog doesn’t need a leash, until he does”

Most cities and counties have leash laws that require you to keep your dog on a leash when out in public.  This is meant not only for your dog’s protection, but the protection of others as well.  Leashes provide us with comfort and peace of mind that we can maintain better control of our dogs if it becomes necessary.  Many of you might say “my dog always listens to me and doesn’t need a leash.”  This might be true that under most normal circumstances, but what about the abnormal ones?  Recently I was walking my dogs and my girl dog Foxy saw a squirrel.  Squirrels are Foxy’s nemesis, so she immediately went into hunting mode, barking, whining, and trying to go after the squirrel.  If she was not wearing her harness and leash, she could have easily run into traffic and been hit by a car, even though she normally follows my commands.

As a veterinary professional, I have worked in general practice and emergency medicine.  I cannot tell you how many times I have seen dogs who were off leash who were hit-by-a-car and the owners tell us “she just ran out and didn’t listen to me.”  It is very devastating to both the beloved pets and their owners when this happens.  And it is easily preventable by always having a leash on your dog.

Another problem with off leash dogs is they cannot be controlled by their owner if they get into a fight with another dog.  Many of the emergencies that come into veterinary hospitals are pets who are attacked by an off-leash dog.  Recently a dog was brought into a local emergency hospital because he had been off leash when he was attacked by a dog who had slipped its collar.  If the smaller dog had been on leash the owner would have had more control of it and may have been able to intervene before the bigger dog attacked.

If you are looking for a good leash  Selina Tedesco, Good Housekeeping Institute studied a variety of leashes and put together a list of  the 10 Best Dog Leashes for Every Type of Dog.  There are many different leash options and you should get one that fits your dog.  You also need make sure that if you are using a collar with the leash, that the collar is snug enough to be comfortable for the dog but also will not slip off the dog’s head.

“Why retractable leashes are a bad idea”

Retractable leashes are supposed to make pet owners lives easier by allowing pets more freedom on walks and still allowing owners to have control over the dog.  Or so you would think.  Unfortunately, many times retractable leashes can lead to accidents and trauma for our dogs.  Recently, I was discussing leashes with my neighbor, when she told me about how her husband had used a retractable leash on his previous dog.  His dog was hit hit-by-a-car while it was on the leash, because the lead was too long for him to pull the dog back in time. Dogs have also been known to be attacked by coyotes or other animals when on retractable leash because they are so far away from their owner and the coyotes were able to grab them.  Dr. Karen Becker discusses 10 reasons not to use a retractable leash for the safety of your dog.

“Don’t worry, my dog doesn’t bite”

I have heard these famous last words many times in the 17 years I have worked in the veterinary field.  As an avid pet owner, I have said these same words myself.  The truth is that almost all dogs bite when put in situations and circumstances where they feel uncomfortable.  All dogs are unpredictable and honestly even the sweetest, most docile dog can react out of pain or fear.  When you are walking your dog be careful when approaching other dogs and their owners.  Even if your dog is the nicest animal, that does not mean that the other dog is.  I have two small dogs and even though they are sweet when we are home, when we are out walking, they are like a “little gang” who does not like other dogs.  I am also very leery of dogs who off leash because if they approach my dogs, I honestly do not know how my dogs will react.

If you are on a walk and your dog wants to greet another dog do not assume that the other dog wants to be greeted, even if the other owner says they are friendly.  Dogs communicate through very well through body language, so you should pay attention to what they are telling you.  Best Friends Animal Society has some great information on dog behavior and what to look for when approaching a dog that you do not know.

“We are baking more, and the dogs love it”

We know that grocery stores have been running out of toilet paper and pasta, but did you know that they are also running out of baking supplies?  Many Americans have taken up baking again and while this is great for the family, it is not so great for the dogs.  Many human foods like chocolate are toxic to most animals, but especially dogs.  Raisins, nuts, and yeast can cause anything from GI upset to death when consumed in certain amounts.  We know that our dogs can be sneaky and get into food when we are not looking.  Now is the time to use extra precaution when baking in larger amounts than we usually do. The ASPCA has more information on people foods to avoid feeding your pets and what to do if your dog consumes them.

“It’s spring and the bees are out”

Spring is one of the most beautiful times of year in California and this year is no exception.  All the flowers are blooming, including the poppies, and with those beautiful flowers come the bees!  Since many of us are home quarantined, we are working in our gardens and talking long walks with our dogs and putting them in the proximity of these “little buggers.” The best way to prevent our dogs from getting stung is to keep them away from bushes and shrubbery, but it is hard to stop a curious dog.  Dogs are easily stung by bees, wasps, hornets, and even ants.  Many of these stings will occur on the dog’s nose and facial area.

It is important to recognize when your dog has been stung and take the appropriate action.  If your dog starts pawing at their face or biting their feet for no reason, it is possible that they have been bit or stung.  If you think they have been stung or bit, please immediately look for the insect could have bit them in case your dog has a reaction.  There is first aid for insect stings in dogs that you might be able to provide your dog.  However, if your dog has severe swelling, develops hives, has difficulty breathing excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, or seizures, call your veterinarian immediately

“Don’t clean your pet’s feet or body with Lysol”

The COVID-19 virus has all of us on edge and there is new information about the virus every day.  Some new information from the CDC indicates that the COVID-19 virus can be can spread 13 feet, travel on shoes but those studies are still early and they do not have enough sufficient data to know for certain.  However, this is causing some concern for pet owners, and some owners are sanitizing their dogs after coming back inside from walks.  If you want to clean your pets after taking them for a walk please do not use Lysol or any other cleaner not meant for animals.  Dawn soap mixed with water can be used to clean your dog’s feet and even be used to give them a bath.  Do not use any other type of dish soap as Dawn has specific chemicals that are safe for animals.  In fact, it is the soap used to clean marine life in oil spills.

There are new concerns about pets especially cats, being able to contract the virus.  The AVMA has additional information on SARS-CoV-2 in animals.  The CDC recommends the following:

  • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.

  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
  • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

Keeping animals safe during this crisis is our responsbility as pet owners.  Our pets rely on us to keep them safe and we need to use good judgement before reacting to the media reports and information.

Sincerely,

Melissa Tompkins, BS, CVPM, PHRca

 

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 Federal & CA State Leave Laws

**I attended a webinar on 3/20/2020 presented by HR Network and this is a transcript of the information regarding the Coronavirus COVID-19 and some HR laws at of 3/18/2020… Melissa Tompkins**

Review of HR 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act

CA Shelter in place

8 Week social contract

  • All Californians to remain at home unless they have need to leave for “essential” activities and work
  • “Essential activities” – groceries, food pick-up, prescriptions/health care, banking, hardware supplies, care for a friend or relative, walking the dog and taking outdoor exercise such as walking, running, or hiking. When people do go out, they should practice social distancing.
  • Those whose work is considered “essential” are also permitted to leave the house to continue their work. Essential businesses included health care facilities, grocery stores, and other food markets, banks, media services, hardware stores, laundromats, and delivery services among others.

Who is still open?

  • Businesses that provide essential services will remain open. They include grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, pharmacies, and other health care providers, new outlets, banks and laundromats. Restaurants can still provide take-out food and make deliveries. Businesses involved in constructions and essential infrastructure such as plumbers, electricians, gas stations, auto repair shops, and hardware stores are also exempt. Public transportation and utilities will continue to provide service.

Enforcement

  • Misdemeanor penalties apply but the governor said he hopes law enforcement won’t need to enforce the order and believes social pressure will encourage people to do the right thing.

Emergency Paid Leave Benefits

  • Creates a new federal emergency paid leave benefit program
  • Eligible workers will receive a benefit for a month (up to three months) in which they must take 14 or more days of leave from their work due to qualifying COVID-19 related reasons.
  • Days when an individual receives pay from their employer (regular wages, sick pay, or other paid time off) or unemployment compensation do not count as leave days for the purposes of this benefit.

Specifications of Emergency Paid Leave

Administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA)

  • Benefit amount: 2/3 of the individual’s average month earning (based on the most recent year of wages or self-employment income for which records are readily available), up to a cap of $4000
  • Program and benefit period: The benefits will be available for leave that occurs from January 19, 2020 (the date of the first US COVID-19 diagnosis) through one year after the bill’s enactment.
  • Retroactive benefits: Benefits can be paid retroactively, and applications can be filed up to 6 months after enactment.
  • Application: Applications will be taken online, by phone, or my mail. Payments in most case will be issues electronically.

*Benefits paid out until the program are not subject to federal income taxes

Paid Sick Days

  • Requires all employers to allow employees to gradually accrue seven days of paid sick leave. **I am waiting on more information to confirm this***
    • ***UPDATED 3/23/20, in the original bill, it was proposed to have employers allow 7 days of paid sick leave, that did not make it to the final bill approved on 3/18/20 and is not required****
  • Requires all employers to provide an additional 14 days (10 business days) of paid sick leave available immediately at the beginning of a public health emergency included the current coronavirus crisis

*Effective immediately upon date of enactment.

UPDATED 3/25/2020 Effective Date Changed to 4/1/2020

Why didn’t big business have to participate? Because they didn’t want the taxpayer to have to pay the bill.

Application/Eligibility

Applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employees

  • Eligible employees
    • Full-time employees: who work 80 hours or more in a two-week period
    • Part-time employees: the # of hours that they work, on average, over a two-week period.

Paid Sick Leave Protected Absences

  1. Employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 (All of California that is taken off work)
  2. Employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19
  3. To obtain a medical diagnosis if the employee has symptoms of COVID-19
  4. Employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order describe in subparagraph 1 or 2 above.
  5. To care for the employee’s child if the child’s school or place of care have been closed, or the childcare provided of the child is unavailable, provided that all deductions made on written orders of the employee may be aggregated and shown as one item to do so, due to COVID-19 precautions.
  6. Employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the “secretary of Health & Human Services”, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury & the Secretary of Labor. (don’t know exactly what that is yet)
  7. Also allows for construction workers to receive sick pay based on hours they work for multiple contractors.

Amount Paid

  • Sick time for reasons 1,2,& 3, is at the employee’s regular rate of pay, based on the number of hours the employee others would be scheduled to work, capped at $511 per day and $5110 total. (quarantined or diagnosed)
  • Sick time sued for reasons 4,5, & 6, however is at two-thirds of the employees’ regular rate of pay, capped at $200 per day and $2,000 totally. (care for another has similar conditions)

Additional Rules

  • Emergency Paid Sick Time is in addition to any sick time the employer already provides.
  • The Employer may not change existing sick leave policy
    • What about employer with PTO policy and not vacation & sick?
      • Need to make sure that at least 3 days of that PTO program be allowed to be used as sick leave and subject to the sick leave rules.
    • All employees, with at least 30 days of employment, immediately qualify.
    • The Employer cannot require the employees to use other forms of sick leave.
    • Expires end of 2020. Employer not required to pay for unused Paid Sick Time.

Coordination with Other Programs

  • Protection of existing benefit rights. Existing benefit rights are protected, including any right to State or local paid leave benefits, and great benefits are allowed including under a contract, collective bargaining agreement, or other employment benefit program.
  • Reduction based on receipt of state or private paid leave. Benefit amounts are offset (reduced) dollar-for-dollar by the amount of any stats or private paid leave benefit the individual also receives.
  • No effect on eligibility for SSI: Benefits paid under this program to not count as income or resources for the Supplement Security Income (SSI) programs.

Emergency Family & Medical Leave Expansion (EFMLA) 

  • Applies to employers with few than 500 employees.
    • Note, small business with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from Emergency FMLA I the required leave would jeopardize the viability of their business.
  • Up to 12 weeks of leave (first 10 days unpaid, then 2/3 off regular rate of pay for the number of hours the employee would typically work during the leave period – up to $200/day, or $10,000 total)
  • Covered leave available to those with a “qualifying need related to a public health emergency” (includes employees who are “Unable to work or telework”) because of thee need to care for the employees’ child (under 18) if the child’s school or daycare has been closed, or the child’s care provider is unavailable to do so due to a public health emergency).

 Emergency FMLA Expansion (1 of 3)

The Families First Act also temporarily provides emergency FMLA leave for a “qualified need related to public health emergency”.

  • Coverage & Eligibility: For specified COVID-19 related reasons, the current employee threshold for coverage is changed from covering employees with 50 or more employees to covering any workplace with few than 500 employees. Employee eligibility requirements for emergency FMLA area also lowered. Instead of working 1,250 hours I the preceding 12 months, the emergency RMLA provisions apply to any employee who has been employer for at least 30 days.
  • Reason for leave: The employee may only take emergency FMLA leave when the employee is unable to work (or telework/remote work) due to a new to care for the employee’s child under 18 years of age if the school or place of care has been closed or the child care provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency, meaning an emergency related to COVID-19.

Emergency FMLA Expansion (2 of 3) 

  • Paid leave: Unlike standard FMLA leave, a significant portion of the emergency FMLA leave must be paid. The first 100 days of emergency FMLA leave may be unpaid. Employees may elect to substitute vacation, personal leave or paid sick leave during that time.
  • After the first 10 days, the employer must pay full-time employees at a rate of no less than 2/3 of their regular rate of pay for the hours normally scheduled. Employees who work part-time irregular schedules are entitled to a rate based on the average number of hours worked over a six-month period. If they haven’t worked that long, then they are entitled to the average number of hours per day that the employee would normally be scheduled to work. Paid leave under this law is capped at $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate, per individual.

 Emergency FMLA Expansion (3 of 3) 

  • Job Protection: As with standard FMLA leave, the emergency leave is protected, meaning an employer must return the employee to the same or equivalent position upon their return. But small employers with few than 25 employees are exempted if the position does not exist due to economic conditions or other changes in operating conditions that affect employment and are caused by a public health emergency. However, the employee must make reasonable efforts to restore the employee to an equivalent position and if those efforts fail, the employer must make reasonable efforts to contact the employee if an equivalent position opens with in year.

*NOTE: The DOL must issue guidelines by April 2nd to assist employer in calculating how much paid leave their employees should get.

UPDATE 3/25/20 Effective Date was changed to April 1st 2020

*Guidelines might change on this in the future

Small Business Reimbursement

Reimburses small business with 50 employees or less for the costs of providing the 14 days of additional paid sick leave used by employees during a public health emergency.

How will businesses and nonprofit afford to pay workers on leave?

  • They will be reimbursed for the full amount within three months, in the form of a payroll tax credit. (The Trump administration has said it will advance the money earlier for employers that can’t wait that long). The reimbursement will also cover thee employer’s contribution to health insurance premiums during the leave. It’s full refundable, which means that if the amount that employers pay works who take leave is larger than what they own in taxes, the government will send them a check for the remainder. (That goes for self-employed and gig economy workers, too).

 Small Business Exemption & Tax Credits

  • Small Business Exemption: The Secretary of Labor is authorized to issue regulations to exclude certain health care providers and emergency responders and to exempt small business with fewer than 50 employees from its requirements when they would jeopardize the viability of the business.
  • Tax Credits: Like paid sick leave, employers will be provided with quarterly tax credits for paid family leave, allowing credits against the employer’s portion of Social Security Taxes. Employers are entitled to credit for qualified family leave wages, up to $200 per day for each individual and $10,000 total with respect to all calendar quarters.

*The Emergency FMLA program will take effect on April 2nd and remain in effect until December 31st, 2020. 

Other Methods of Income Replacement 

  • Paid Leave Bank
  • Vacation & PTO
  • State and local paid sick leave

Can I force employees to use paid vacation or sick leave?

  • Federal DOL FAQ: “A private employer may direct exempt staff to take vacation or debit their sick leave bank account in the case of an office closure.”

Leave information

  • Disability Insurance – If employee is unable to work due to a medical quarantine or illness related to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional).
  • Paid Family Leave – If unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional).
    • This can also be used if has childcare issues
  • Unemployment – If you have lost your job or have had your hours reduced for reasons related to the COVID-19
  • Paid sick leave – If you or a family member are sick or for preventative care when civil authorities recommend quarantine.
  • Workers comp – If you are unable to do your usual job because you were exposed to and contracted the COVID-19 during the regular course of your work, you may be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits.
  • Can file claim if they contract the virus directly from the business, might be difficult to prove though.
  • Can only claim workers comp or paid leave, cannot do both together.

 California Unemployment Insurance Benefit Programs

  • Work Share – 2 employees share one job, 20-60% reduction in hours/pay
    • Employees file unemployment claim
    • Employer is required to provide a notice of reduced earnings (can get notice
      • Each week Employer would need to provide unemployment office with a copy of payroll records to show reduction in pay
    • Partial benefits – 50% more reduction in pay/hours
      • Provide employees with a notice of reduced earnings work
        • Each week Employer would need to provide unemployment office with a copy of payroll records to show reduction in pay
      • Full Benefits
        • Furlough – stays on payroll, to be called back, not required to look for other work.
        • Layoff – terminated from payroll, required to look for other work (may be waived).

Deductions from Exempt Employee Salaries 

  • What if an exempt employee has no vacation or sick leave to use and works a portion of the week?
  • If exempt employee is directed to stay home; Exempt employees do not need to be paid for any complete “workweek” in which they perform no work.
    • If they have vacation or sick leave, you can supplement days they didn’t work with vacation or sick leave.
    • But if they work any part of the week and they don’t have vacation or sick to supplement it, you must pay them for the whole week.
  • If exempt employees absent themselves for personal reasons and have exhausted their sick leave balance, the employer can make deductions from salary for full day absences, but not partial day absences.

*Note, be explicit that employees shouldn’t perform any work from home, even checking email is considered work.  

Reduction to Exempt Employee Salaries

  • Reduction in pay & hours to avoid layoffs
  • Across-the-board salary reduction (can’t pick and choose, must be everyone)
  • Prospective only
    • Meaning, the next pay period, can’t do is the last pay period started previously.

*In a series of opinion letters, the federal DOL & CA DLSE has advised that temporary reductions to exempt employees’ salaries and hours do not violate the salary basis test when done during sever economic conditions to avoid layoffs.

Expense Reimbursement for Remote Workers

Are we required to reimburse for home internet and other expenses associated with remote work?

  • CA – Employer is obligated to reimburse for home internet, or other expenses associated with remote work.
  • Federal –
    • Employers may not require employees who are covered by the FLSA to pay or reimburse the employer for {additional costs that employees incur if they work from home}, if doing so reduces the employee’s earning below the required minimum wage or overtime compensation.
    • Employers can supplement pay based on what it is you are providing them.
      • Suggest for employer come up with a fair dollar amount of what expense is and provided them with that.
        • It is taxable income

Warn Act Overview 

Federal and state WARN Acts generally require 60 days’ advanced notice of plant closings, mass layoffs, and similar events, counting employment losses toward the thresholds.

CA Warn – Covered establishment is any “industrial or commercial facility” the employees or has employed 75 or more person over the last year, triggered by termination, mass layoff, and relocation of 50 or more employees.

*How to count remote employees?

  • Fed Warn – general counted as being employed in a single site
  • CA Warn – unanswered, follow federal. 

California WARN Act Suspended For COVID-19 Emergency

Warn Act – Failure to provide the 60 days’ notice exposes employees to liability for up to 60 days back pay and the value of benefits for all laid off employees plus additional civil penalties, which can be recovered under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA)

*Governor Newsome relaxed the CA Warn Notice requirements, but employers MUST provide UI info & give a Warn Notice as soon as possible.

  • Still need to notify the department the CA DOL

OSHA Guidance & Requirements

  • OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID
  • OSHA 3990-03 2020 – can be downloaded
  • OSHA 3990-03 Booklet

Recordable Illness

  • COVID-19 is a “recordable” illness, *if infection occurs at the workplace*
    • Must be a “confirmed” case of COVID-19
    • Workplace infection may be difficult to prove
  • If not obvious, employer must “evaluate the employee’s work duties & environment to decide whether or not one or more events or exposures in the work environment either causes or contributed.” to the illness.

Employees Refusing to Work

What if my employee is afraid to come to work, or wants to stay home with family?

  • CA & OSHA Regs – cannot retaliate against an employee who has a good faith safety concern.
  • Unpaid time off, not eligible for UI benefits. May allow employee to use vacation

Requiring Dr.’s Notes

Employee says, “I’m fine (after 14 days of quarantine), can I come back to work?

  • Employer can require a doctor’s note but considering situation may be difficult to get.
  • Recommendation is that employers look for signs that employee may be ill
    • Fever
    • Shortness of breath
    • Cough
  • If employee exhibits any of those signs it is okay for employer to not allow them to come back to work.
  • EEOC has made it legal to for the employer to take employee’s temperatures before walking through the door.

Information presented by

Audrianne Adams Lee, SPHR, President HR Network

HR NETWORK 3/20/2020 11:AM PST

https://www.hrnetworkinc.com/

Summary from HR Network Coronavirus Presentation 3/20/2020 11:00 am PST

Important Links:

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave

//www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-

CDC Coronavirus COVID-19

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

https://www.eeoc.gov/

Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Resources for Employers and Workers

https://cvma.net/corona-virus-update/

https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19

https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

How to protect your family and pets in the event of an earthquake, vital supplies to have on hand, by Melissa Tompkins

Earthquakes are a looming threat here in California.  The “‘big one” is always near and we never know when it will strike.  Being prepared is important and something that we cannot afford not to do.

You should prepare yourself for two things, either you will be evacuated or restricted to your home.

Forced evacuation

In the event that you are forced to evacuate I recommend that you have a back pack with travel supplies in it.  One back pack for each person and one for your pets.  Prepare & store the back packs a head of time so that they are easy to grab in a quick evacuation.  Have extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes if you have to evacuate.  Also, if you have smaller animals that you will have to carry, make sure to have lightweight sherpa bags to use instead of just the big plastic ones.

EXTRA CASH – you may not be able to use your debit or credit cards

Food ideas

It is very important that you have non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home).

  • Beef Jerky
  • apple sauce packets
  • protein bars
  • peanut butter crackers
  • cans of fruit
  • cans of vegetables
  • cans of beans
  • container of nuts
  • can of tuna or chicken
  • pudding containers (the no fridge kind)
  • MRE’s if desired
  • CAN OPENER
  • Double zipper bag everything individually
  • Put tape on the food stuffs with the expiration date written LARGE on it so you can see it in low light

Water

Water is an essential resource and you may be without running water for an unknown period of time.  Do not count on being able to buy it at the grocery store once the earthquake hits.  Have at lease one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home).  If you have animals, you will need at least one gallon for them as well.

Have a water filter drinking straw or water filtration device or bleach tablets in case you need to purify your water source.

First aid & toiletries

Having a first aid kit is imperative for treating minor injuries.  Getting medical assistance may be extremely difficult after a large earthquake so I recommend that you have more than one kit.  Have multiple kits for your home and another in your car since you may not be home when the earthquake happens.

Make sure that you have plenty of toilet paper and even feminine hygiene products, as pads can also be used for wound care.

You should not use your gallons of water to bathe with.  I recommend that you have baby wipes, at least two containers per person.  Get some dry shampoo, this is an excellent way to keep your hair cleaner.

If you take prescriptions, make sure you have at least a 7 day of your medications.  Pharmacies may not be open to give refills so don’t let yourself get low.

Safety stuff

Whether you are restricted to your home or evacuated there may be dangers everywhere.  Have a multi-use tool (like a Leatherman’s) easily available.

Make sure that you know how to turn off the gas in your home in case gas your line ruptures, which could easily cause an explosion.

Make sure that you have plenty of flashlights (at least one for each person). If possible get some collapsible solar lights so that you do not have to have as many batteries.

Get a two way radio.  Visibility and hearing may be limited and this will be important if you have to leave any where on foot.

Have a short wave radio – https://www.redcrossstore.org/item/FR1

  • They also have emergency radios at Bed Bath and Beyond.
  • Get the hand crank/solar emergency radio/flashlight/USB charger kind.

Extra batteries are very important.  Go through your supplies and determine what kind of batteries you will need to have on hand.

Make sure that you have an extra set of car keys and house keys in case you get separated or one of your family is injured.

The air may be filled with smoke, powder, gas, or other chemicals so I recommend that you have face masks on hand.

You may not have access to a heat source and if it is winter time the temperatures can drop quickly at night.  Get a Fire starter kit or long burning candle for heat as well as warming food.  Make sure that there are no gas leaks nearby.

Get an emergency flare, like ORION flares, this source of light, recognized by search and rescue internationally as an emergency distress sign.  It can also be source of heat & light, long shelf life and weather resistant. They are flammable solids but not unstable, once lit  they will continue to burn because the chemicals are oxidizers so they generate their own oxygen to support the flame (even drop them in water the keep burning until they run out of fuel).

Make sure you have plenty of blankets accessible, get the super thin aluminum foil kind and put in your backpack if you are evacuated.  Also get a rain poncho if needed and put it in the backpack as well.

You may need to get gasoline which may be very difficult during this time.  Make sure that you have some empty gas cans at home and if it is safe to store, have an extra gallon on hand.

Small but important supplies

  • A whistle, if you are trapped somewhere this can be used to identify your location.
  • Towels.
  • Work gloves.
  • Duct tape.
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home.
  • Extra ammo if you have guns.
  • Plastic sheeting.
  • Scissors.
  • Household liquid bleach.

Lack of sewage

If the water is not running, than neither is your toilet.  It will be essential that human waste is disposed of properly.  Get large buckets lined with heavy duty lawn bags with a little kitty litter for a make shift potty.

Personal use items

Make sure that you have copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies).

Write all of your medical, allergy and other information on cards and get some lamination plastic to seal them, separate cards for each member of the family (including critters).

Make sure you have your cell phone charger.  If you get the portable charging station with hand crank you will be able to charge your phone.

Make sure that you have your family and emergency contact information and maps of the area.

Entertainment items

Consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit.  Have any necessary medical supplies on hand like hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc.  If you have small children make sure that you have baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers).

Importantly, have games and activities for children.  After the initial disaster happens there will be lot of wait time, games and activities will help keep the kids calmer.

Pet Safety Kit

Here is a list of things to think about for your pet:

  • #1 Make sure all of your pets are microchipped! What if you are not home when the emergency happens? What if they get scared and get out? How will you identify them?  Microchips are the easiest way to protect them.
  • Have contact info for you neighbors in case you are not home and they are able to help get your pet safely out of your home.
  • Know which hotels are pet friendly in a 10 mile radius of your home.  Remember, not all evacuation shelters will allow pets so it is important that you know where you can go.
  • Food: Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container. Make sure you also have a bowl to feed your animals with.
  • Water: Store at least three days of water specifically for your pet(s), this is in addition to water you’ll need for yourself and family.  Make sure you have a bowl for this as well.
  • Medications: Keep an extra supply of medications your pet takes on a regular basis; store in a waterproof container. Remember, veterinary hospitals may not be open if they are also affected by the disaster, so you may not be able to get a refill on important medications.
  • Collar with ID tag, harness and/or leash: Your pet should always wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification. Makes sure you have your pets micro-chip ID number accessible to you
  • First Aid Kit: Talk to our veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet’s emergency medical needs.
  • Most kits should at least include:
    • Conforming stretch gauze bandage material (2” x 75”) – can be used to create a pressure wrap, sterile gauze pads (4”x4”) – can be cut to smaller size if needed
    • bandage tape
    • cotton tipped applicators
    • antibiotic ointment
    • flea and tick prevention
    • latex gloves
    • antiseptic wipes
    • anti-clotting powder
    • povidone-iodine prep pads
    • saline solution
    • tweezers, and scissors.
    • protective paws covers – remember there may be broken glass around, you need something to protect their feet if they have to walk on the ground.
  • Important Documents: Place copies of your pet’s registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic/waterproof container and add them to your kit.
  • Muzzle for your dog or cat.  Your pets are likely to be stressed or injured and may bite as a reaction to fear or pain.
  • Crate and another pet carrier: If you need to evacuate in an emergency you will need a safe place to transport your pet in. This is especially true for cats and smaller pets.
  • Sanitation: Cat litter & a litter box if possible.  Paper towels, newspaper, plastic trash bags and house hold coloring bleach will help to provided sanitation if/when needed. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (dilute nine parts water to one-part bleach). Use 8 drops of regular household bleach per gallon of water, stir well and let it stand for at least 30 minutes before use. DO NOT use scented or color safe bleaches or those with added cleaners.
  • A picture of you and your pet together: If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, color and distinguishing characteristics/markings.
  • Familiar items: Put favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet.

Emergencies are scary and can be life changing.  To protect all of your loved ones, both human and animal, the most important thing you can do is to be prepared.

Melissa Tompkins, BS, CVPM

selective focus photography of white and tan shih tzu puppy carrying by smiling woman

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

Top Tips On Keeping Your Pets and Your Family Safe In A Fire Emergency, by Melissa Tompkins

Fire danger in Southern California is very real and right now fires have consumed more than 100,000 acres and 6700 structures in Northern and Southern California this month.

If you are in a fire zone, get prepared immediately to protect your pets and loved ones.

Before the fire

  • If you are near a wooded area make sure that any dead or dry brush is cleared from around your home.
  • Make sure all of your smoke detectors work.
  • Have a fire extinguisher on hand (especially for small house fires).
  • Make an evacuation kit.
    • Have some old shoes and a flashlight for a night evacuation.
      • If you think you might be evacuated get personal hygiene stuff together as well as an overnight bag of essential clothing.
      • Have your pet’s safety pack ready and easily accessible, see my previous blog for kit info http://bit.ly/2OD4KJf/petsafetykit
      • Have at least one gallon of water per person available.
      • Have small snacks for easy travel food available to bring with you if needed.
    • Keep the “six” P’s ready in case immediate evacuation is required.
      • People and pets
      • Papers, phone# and important documents
      • Prescriptions, pills and eyeglasses
      • Pictures and irreplaceable memorabilia
      • Personal computer (information on hard drives and disks)
      • “Plastic” (credit cards and cash, should have around $400 in cash)
  • Make a plan
    • Keep your car’s fuel tank full and your car facing out.
    • Have a family emergency plan and re-unification plan.

When The Fire Approaches

  • Evacuate if directed by authorities, or if fire is headed toward your home.
  • Close heavy draperies, but remove lightweight curtains.
  • Leave lights on in the house to mark your home for emergency responders.
  • Turn off propane gas supply at the tank.
  • Evacuate using pre-identified road “escape routes”.
  • Watch for downed power lines – treat all wires as energized and lethal.
  • Most importantly, don’t wait until it is too late to evacuate!

What if my kids are in school?  Firefighters will prioritize protecting and evacuating school sites. Know your school’s evacuation plans and where they will take your student. Develop an emergency plan for baby sitters and other care providers for in home care.  Make sure they have emergency contact information for multiple family members.

What should I do with my animals?

You should take small animals with you.  If possible keep them in a pet travel crate for their own safety.  If you have livestock please take them to alternate stables and do this as soon as possible.  It is not recommended to release large stock animals to run wild as they may become injured.  But if you are not able to relocate them and the fire is coming it is better to let them loose than leave in a locked stable.

After the fire

You should wait until you are told by local authorities before coming back to your home.  If your home is damaged please contact your insurance company or landlord.

Do not wait until you or your home is at risk to be prepared, get started today.

Red Cross Fire Prevention Check List https://rdcrss.org/2DfWahG

Red Cross Frequently Asked Questions https://rdcrss.org/2AZ6by5

If you need help after a fire https://www.redcross.org/find-your-local-chapter.html

Recovering after a fire https://www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery-services.html

Melissa Tompkins, BS, CVPM

animal animal photography blur breed

Photo by Adam Kontor on Pexels.com

Emergency Disaster Preparedness – Create a Safety Pack For Your Pets

Are you prepared in the event of an emergency?  Do you have all the supplies recommended by The Red Cross and other disaster preparedness groups?  And the bigger question is, are your animals prepared?

Natural and man-made disasters can be devastating.  Here in California, we are plagued by wildfires, flooding, and earthquakes.  Over the next few weeks I will posting about these different disasters and how you can be better prepared for them.  This week I am going to talk about creating a safety kit for your pets.

Creating a safety kit for your pets is very important.  You may have to evacuate your home for a unknown period of time and you need to be prepared.

Here is a list of things to think about for your pet:

-#1 Make sure all of your pets are microchipped! What if you are not home when the emergency happens? What if they get scared and get out? How will you identify them?  Microchips are the easiest way to protect them.

-Have contact info for you neighbors in case you are not home and they are able to help get your pet safely out of your home.

-Know which hotels are pet friendly in a 10 mile radius of your home.  Remember, not all evacuation shelters will allow pets so it is important that you know where you can go.

-Food: Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container. Make sure you also have a bowl to feed your animals with.

-Water: Store at least three days of water specifically for your pet(s), this is in addition to water you’ll need for yourself and family.  Make sure you have a bowl for this as well.

-Medications: Keep an extra supply of medications your pet takes on a regular basis; store in a waterproof container. Remember, veterinary hospitals may not be open if they are also affected by the disaster, so you may not be able to get a refill on important medications.

-Collar with ID tag, harness and/or leash: Your pet should always wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification. Makes sure you have your pets micro-chip ID number accessible to you.

-First Aid Kit: Talk to our veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet’s emergency medical needs.

Most kits should at least include:

 -Conforming stretch gauze bandage material (2” x 75”) – can be used to create a               pressure wrap, sterile gauze pads (4”x4”) – can be cut to smaller size if needed

-bandage tape

-cotton tipped applicators

-antibiotic ointment

-flea and tick prevention

-latex gloves

-antiseptic wipes

-anti-clotting powder

-povidone-iodine prep pads

-saline solution

-tweezers, and scissors.

-protective paws covers – remember there may be broken glass around, you need something to protect their feet if they have to walk on the ground.

-Important Documents: Place copies of your pet’s registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic/waterproof container and add them to your kit.

-Muzzle for your dog or cat.  Your pets are likely to be stressed or injured and may bite as a reaction to fear or pain.

-Crate and another pet carrier: If you need to evacuate in an emergency you will need a safe place to transport your pet in. This is especially true for cats and smaller pets.

-Sanitation: Cat litter & a litter box if possible.  Paper towels, newspaper, plastic trash bags and house hold coloring bleach will help to provided sanitation if/when needed. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (dilute nine parts water to one-part bleach). Use 8 drops of regular household bleach per gallon of water, stir well and let it stand for at least 30 minutes before use. DO NOT use scented or color safe bleaches or those with added cleaners.

-A picture of you and your pet together: If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, color and distinguishing characteristics/markings.

-Familiar items: Put favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet.

Emergencies are scary and can be life changing.  To protect your fury loved ones, the most important thing you can do is to be prepared.

Melissa Tompkins, BS, CVPM

white and black long fur cat

Photo by umit ozbek on Pexels.com