If another bushfire breaks out, have you thought about how you will get your pets to safety, especially if you’re working outside the Blue Mountains?
An animals in emergencies survey conducted by community group Blue ARC and Macquarie University researchers has revealed that with 63 per cent of Blue Mountains households owning pets and 58 per cent of workers commuting outside the area, it’s essential people have a plan in place for their animals if disaster hits.
Researcher Mel Taylor is urging people to discuss their emergency plan with their neighbours, in particular the evacuation plan in relation to their pets.
Think about where you would go and how you would get there. Make a plan for every single person in the family and all the animals.
“It’s about neighbours having that conversation. The numbers that commute, they need to have that peace of mind. Make sure there’s somebody at home when you’re not and you’re home when they’re not,” Dr Taylor said.
Another key finding from the survey was that many people didn’t have their own transport, particularly the elderly, so they were relying on public transport.
During the 2013 fires hundreds of animals died, and some people took pets on public transport, but the survey found people were unsure if this was acceptable.
“The public transport situation needs to be clarified. Unofficially we’re told that animals can be taken on public transport during an emergency, but this isn’t good enough to help people make plans,” said Blue ARC member Jenny Bigelow.
“For those who need to use public transport they need to know that on high/catastrophic fire danger days they can take their animals with them. Around 30 per cent suggest they would or might use public transport for this purpose if they were able to.”
Knowing where to take pets in an emergency was also an issue.
“People want to know what places will accept them with their pets. We need to have clearer help and guidance from official emergency management authorities,” Ms Bigelow said.
“It really hit me with the survey how vulnerable people are. You wouldn’t leave your children alone in a high-risk situation but people leave animals alone,” she said.
“Think about where you would go and how you would get there. Make a plan for every single person in the family and all the animals … act early, don’t leave it to the last minute.
“Have a kit prepared to go with multiple plans for multiple scenarios.”