Stronger winds this weekend could mean the spread of raging forest fires further across British Columbia, the province is warning. And The Fur-Bearers want to make sure that you’re ready to keep your family safe, and help the animals if you're able.
The CBC reported today that in the last six days “more than 14,000 people have been forced from their homes by wildfires, and thousands more have been warned to be ready to leave at a moment's notice if the situation gets worse. Since April, 78,000 hectares have been burned by 602 wildfires, officials said Wednesday.”
Prepare your family and pets
PreparedBC has created a handy PDF that helps you create emergency plans, make “grab and go” bags, and how much food and water your family may need. You can download the 16-page document by clicking here, which includes a checklist, as seen here. Though it isn’t stated specifically, you can add your pets to item number four, “assign someone to collect your children if you can’t.” Also remember to incorporate pet needs such as medications, food, and extra water in your plans.
PreparedBC also wants to remind residents of the difference between an evacuation alert and an evacuation order:
Alert – be ready to leave on short notice; if you leave during this alert, it’s called a voluntary evacuation.
Order – you are at risk, leave the area immediately; local police or RCMP will enforce evacuation orders.
Helping the animals (pets)
During an evacuation order it isn’t always possible for people to return home for pets, and in the confusion and upset of emergency responses, dogs, cats, and other domestic animals can slip away from their homes, or get panicked and run away.
Two shelters in regions impacted by the emergency response – Princeton and Prince George – are facing overwhelming numbers, the CBC reported. They’re both requesting volunteers to work on the front lines and to assist in reuniting missing pets with families. This need is likely to grow to other shelters as the fires may spread. Contact your local shelter and find out what you can do to help.
Helping the animals (wildlife)
Wildlife rehabilitators will be seeing an influx of animals in need of assistance – from healing of serious injuries to treatment of dehydration and exhaustion because of the mad dash away from the flames. And this is on top their regularly busy summer duties of treating and releasing injured or orphaned animals. Please find your local wildlife rehabilitator (use this handy list from the Wildlife Rehabilitators’ Network of BC http://www.wrnbc.org/) and call them to find out how you can help.
- If you come across an injured or possibly orphaned animal, these tips can help you make the best decisions in how to assist:
- Don’t try to pick them up or touch them. Instead, write down all the details, including location, time, description of any visible injuries, and contact your local wildlife rehabilitator (or SPCA branch).
- Do not feed them. Injured animals or babies may require specialized foods or medications.
- Considering leaving out clean water. Any animal affected by the wild fires would appreciate a drink, and may choose to rest for a few minutes. This shouldn’t lead to habituation.
- Let them rest. Even if you’re not a fan of having wildlife in or around your home, remember they may be on the run, or frightened, and having a night’s rest behind your shed, or next to your fence can help them get back on their feet and stay safe.
If we all exercise our compassion by opening our homes to friends and relatives who were evacuated, providing water and relief to wildlife, or volunteering at a local shelter, we will get through these fires safely, and together.