Ask Hopeful Henry: Preparing your pets for fire evacuation |

Ask Hopeful Henry: Preparing your pets for fire evacuation

Dear Henry: I have seen some signs around town that it is “Fire Awareness Month” which brought to my attention that I have never been in a major fire and really don’t know what I should do to prepare myself or my dog and cat. Any advise? Thanks. — Harvey

Dear Harvey: Yes it is “Fire Awareness Month” and I’m glad it made you aware enough to ask what to do when we have a wildfire. There is a great website to check that is loaded with valuable information, Click on the Lake Tahoe tab upper right side of page. Also you can pick up your free emergency kit at the main office of the Lake Tahoe Humane Society located at 870 Emerald Bay Rd., suite 104.

Because Katrina left more than 250,000 pets stranded and struggling to survive, a law in California (AB 450) was passed in 2007 requiring the Office of Emergency Service to have a disaster plan that will include pets. Here in South Lake Tahoe, the Lake Tahoe Humane Society, the Red Cross and El Dorado Animal Services are responsible for the temporary sheltering of your pets during a disaster.

Plan to take your animals with you and never turn them loose. Animals might not be allowed inside human emergency shelters. Contact the Lake Tahoe Humane Society or your county’s animal services department for location of temporary shelter for your animals or for advice on animal evacuation.

Make sure dogs and cats wear properly fitted collars with identification, vaccination, microchip and license tags.

Your pet evacuation plan should include routes, transportation needs and host sites. Share this plan with trusted neighbors in your absence.

Exchange veterinary information with neighbors and file a permission slip with the veterinarian authorizing emergency care for your animals if you cannot be located.

Make sure all vehicles, trailers and pet carriers needed for evacuation are serviced and ready to be used.

Assemble a pet to-go bag with a supply of food, no-spill food and water bowls, cat litter and box, a bag of puppy pads (place a puppy pad inside of pet carrier as pets may be confined to that space for longer than usual), and a restraint (chain, leash or harness). Additional items to include are newspaper, paper towels, plastic bags, permanent marker, bleach/disinfectant solution and water buckets.

Another important thing to know about preparing for wildfire is what to wear during a fire evacuation. Wear only cotton or wool clothes. Proper attire includes long pants, long-sleeved shirt or jacket, a hat and boots. Carry gloves, a handkerchief to cover your face, water to drink and goggles. Keep a flashlight and portable radio with you at all times.

Prepare your car for wildfire evacuation by placing car facing out if it is in the garage and leave keys in ignition. Keep vehicle fuel tank full during fire season. Keep car windows rolled up. Close the garage door but leave it unlocked. Place essential items in trunk of car at first sign of wildfire. Items would include important documents like birth certificates, passport, drivers license, address book, insurance policy (take video of your house and contents, save to a disk and keep with your policy), credit and ATM cards, medications, medical records, cell phone and charger, personal toiletries, family photo albums and heirlooms, enough food and water for 3-5 days and the above-mentioned pet supplies. Right before evacuation if you have an electric garage door opener disconnect it so it can be open manually.

When you leave your home for an evacuation close all interior doors, leave a light on in each room, remove lightweight non-fire resistant curtains and other combustible materials from around windows, Close fire-resistant drapes, shutters and blinds, turn off all pilot lights (gas heaters and stoves) and close fireplace damper.

Remember, there is nothing you own worth your life! Please evacuate immediately when asked by law enforcement officials.

Submit your questions or letters via email to or by mail to P.O. Box PET, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. Visit the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA on Facebook at You can also become a Facebook friend of Hopeful Henry at

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