|Keeping these two safe is my number one priority.|
On Sunday afternoon as I drove home from the barn where I had a wonderful ride on my good old horse, El Corazon, I saw a white plume of smoke rising over the freeway. As I got closer it became apparent that it was in my neighborhood. After a brief moment of panic I was able to pinpoint the location slightly south of my own home. Very slightly - as it turns out, the fire was only about half a block from me. I went to have a closer look when I took the dogs for a walk - by that time, the fire crews were packing up but there were still crowds of people standing around, a local news station truck, and a fleet of emergency response vehicles.
News of the fire was soon available on Twitter, and more details emerged on the Monday morning news. The fire was caused by an electrical malfunction and four units were damaged. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Photos online showed flames shooting from the roof of the building - I'd been gone for the worst of it, when black smoke was billowing into the sky. The building is nearly identical to mine - six connected two-story units. The trouble with shared walls is that your neighbor's mistake, negligence or misfortune can quickly become your own.
Fire has always been one of my greatest fears. When I was a kid living in the country in southwestern Colorado, our neighbor's teenage son shot a bottle rocket into our parched pasture in the middle of the summer. My mother and I watched as within seconds, fire spread across the dry field to our shed and chicken coop. It was lucky that we didn't yet have horses, but my brave and heroic mother rescued our chickens and rabbits from the burning building. We had some irreplaceable items stored in the shed, but the animals were the priority and my mom risked her own life for them. She was ill from smoke inhalation for weeks afterward, my rabbits had to live in my bedroom, and one of our hens suffered severe burns to her feet. The memory of that terrifying day and its aftermath has been forever etched in my mind, and the neighborhood fire brought it all to the surface again.
I envisioned getting out of the house quickly with all three animals, the logistics of where I keep their leashes, what I would do with them once outside. Putting them in my car and moving my car to safety would seem like the simplest plan. I usually keep at least one slip lead in my car, but this new train of thought has prompted me to keep a couple in the bedroom as well, since that's where we'd be if something happened in the middle of the night. I have one of those stickers on my front window alerting emergency responders that there are pets inside, but I should have one on the back door as well. It's hard to imagine strangers being able to wrangle Ruby, Boca and Nina, especially with no collars on. This scary event too close to home has definitely inspired me to make some changes. The CDC's Disaster Preparedness For Your Pet is a helpful guide.
What about you? Do you have a plan for your pets in case of fire, flood or other emergency?