Are you prepared?

Are you prepared?

Portia Stewart
Here in the Midwest, it's been a stormy season. Some states have seen record numbers of twisters, and we've had to kennel our dog during thunderstorms so many times this year we've stopped counting. If you've ever lived in an area where tornadoes are common, you know the chill the tornado siren sends when it starts to moan.

Usually it's a false alarm. But for Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member Sharon DeNayer and the team at Windsor Veterinary Clinic in Windsor, Colo., this time it wasn't. The Denver Post reported a mile-wide tornado hit the town of Windsor on May 22 around lunch time, damaging dozens of houses and dozens of cars.

At Windsor Veterinary Clinic, the winds, which reached nearly 165 mph, damaged the roof, windows, and exterior light fixtures. And some of the practice's clients faced larger damages.

In a letter to Firstline, practice owner Robin Downing, DVM, wrote, "The destruction defies description. We have many friends and clients who have lost their homes. ... We are housing some pets whose homes are gone."

Disasters like this can take many forms—hurricanes, fires, floods, ice storms. So wherever you live, be sure your practice is prepared for the worst. Do you have a disaster plan? How will you handle clients' and pets' needs before, during, and after the event? Here are some issues you'll need to consider when you create your plan

  • Will you offer boarding? And what’s your plan if your facility is damaged? (Also see "One Pet, Two Pet, Old Pet, New Pet".)
  • Are you equipped to continue serving clients during utility outages that could last for days?
  • Do you have backup phone numbers for friends, co-workers, and family?
  • Have you backed up personal and business files on a computer disc or storage device?
  • Have you stocked up on water and food for both pets and people?
  • Have you stocked up on supplies your clients might need to evacuate their pets, including tranquilizers and cardboard carriers?

No one likes to imagine the consequences severe weather can bring. But if you don’t spend time considering how you’ll respond, you may not be prepared at a time when your community needs you the most.

Keep the team at Windsor Veterinary Clinic in your thoughts. And remember, how you respond to clients in times of crisis will likely make a larger impression than anything else you do.