When Minutes Count: A Disaster Plan

With winter once again about upon us up here in Oregon, I am reminded of a few years ago – the terrible flooding we went through, and the many other states that went throught the same and other disasters. If it becomes necessary to evacuate, minutes and seconds count…..what can you do to help your flock……and yourself!I would like to share with you things that we have done to be better prepared. I asked some friends to help think of other things we might want to include and they did. Many minds are better than one.

Our Emergency/evacuation list (in alphabetic sequence):

  1. ALCOHOL(see betadine)
  2. ALOE VERA: Soothes burns and cuts and aids healing.
  3. BETADINE: For wounds for ourselves or the birds, we use betadine (found in any pharmacy, but cheaper at any animal feed or supply house). Alcohol and peroxide will also work as a disinfectant, but they sting. Betadine diluted to a tea color with water will work just as well as a disinfectant, is effective against more bugs, and is almost non-painful to apply.
  4. BAR OF WHITE SOAP (like Ivory): One vet tech suggested this for a toenail that just wouldn’t stop bleeding on one of the birds. Rake the toenail along the edge of the bar of soap so it will “plug” the cannula of the toenail and allow it to clot. For anyone who thinks this is cruel try putting quikstop on your leg (or face) if you cut it shaving. You will do that ONCE.
  5. CARRIERS: Keep carriers in a safe, convenient location so that one can grab birds and be outta there. In an emergency seconds count! A vet pointed out that one might not be able to fit all of the carriers in a vehicle, if even there were enough carriers for all the birds. He suggested keeping a good supply of pillowcases and long twist ties in the bird room. Quickly stick a bird in each pillow case, twist tie the top and go. They will not suffocate if you don’t ‘stack’ them on top of each other While you may have some pissed off birdies, they will be alive and safe. Use the kingsize cases and tie way at the top or secure with heavy rubber bands. One could also thread a strong cord or ribbon thru the top hem and have both ends loose to gather and tie.Varations on this theme include using: clean burlap bags, mesh bags or perhaps even re-cycled feed bags – as long as one turns these inside out to wash them, taking care not to use heat to dry them (in the case of those made from fibers). One person plans to sew a length of ribbon to one end, fold the bags or pillow cases in half length wise, roll them up into a small roll, tie with the ribbon and place inside another sack which will be stored right outside the aviary in the feed shed. Then one can grab one, pull the end, it will unroll. Voila! Grab the baby, place in bag and tie. This is fast and speed is what is going to count.Be sure to include a few extra bags. Your spouse may spill some gasoline or kerosene on the floor and then drop one of the bags in the spill. It’s not good for the birds to breathe the fumes. And extra bags can be used to throw last minute items into. Like clean the frig of cheese, bread, etc. that can be eaten in the fingers. It will spoil anyway and some quick food while you are moving makes a big difference.
  6. CASE: A fish tackle box, suitcase, plastic box or cooler, or picnic hamper. One of those oversized bags that resemble the old time black doctors bags seen in the old movies. A storage system based on a plain five gallon bucket with a lid also doubles as a seat.
  7. CORD, COTTON can be used to suspend a light from a nail or beam keeping both hands free to work on a bird. It can also be used to bind things together. If surfaces are dry, you can tape them. But, tape won’t stick to wet surfaces.
  10. DISINFECTANTS: Betadine ( diluted to tea color strength with water NOT STRAIGHT), Nolvasan, Oxyfresh Gele’, alcohol, peroxide, Lysol Waterlesshand cleaner.
  11. DOWELS of various sizes and round tooth picks for splints and a straight edged safety razor.
  12. DUCT TAPE(see Tape)
  13. EXACTO KNIFE: An Exacto Knife can substitute for a scalpel. Be sure to remember extra blades.
  16. GAVAGE TUBES for emergency feeding.
  17. GATORADE (powdered) Will do if Ringers is not available. Squirrels and possums are often happy to slurp it too. Great for rehydrating passerines, psitticines, mammals, etc. A human doctor dilutes it greatly and suggests only using at half strength even for humans.
  18. GAUZE
  20. GLUCOSE: If you are going to give glucose, make sure it is given only orally or intravenous. If given SQ ( below the skin) it can cause severe sloughing & infection.
  21. HANDCLEANER (waterless): Helps you clean up when water is limited.
  22. HANDFEEDING FORMULA. Remember to freshen periodically.
  24. HOT PACKS: There’s a great thing called Hot Hands. I found them at Walmart in the hunting dept. They come in several different sizes. Some for hands are a bit larger than a tea bag or two and the size for feet is only a tiny bit bigger, but gets hotter and lasts longer. The larger is about the size of a wallet. Lasts 12-24 hours. They have fairly safe stuff in them such as charcoal and salt and sand that when shaken causes a thermal reaction resulting in heat. They can be used while waiting for a heating pad to warm up in an emergency or for spot heat or for transporting babies or with shocky animals.Many people have used rice sewn in a bag or sock and heated in the microwave for transporting birds. (Some use this method to make a hot pack to exactly fit her/his neck and report great sucess). Fill a hot water bottle with boiling water, wrap it in many thick towels and place in a picnic basket so one can regulate heat by proping open the top as needed. A digital thermometer that has been calibrated ensures best result. The weave in the basket allows good circulation even if it is a tight weave.
  25. HYDROGEN PEROXIDE (see betadine)
  26. LIGHT, EMERGENCY: A rechargable flashlight is SUPER ! Use a little double sided tape to attach a magnet to the window sill to hold it in place to recharge. A regular flashlight with fresh replacement batteries is good. And a camping lantern which uses bottled LP gas puts out the same as a 150 watt bulb and is good for close work.
  28. NOLVASAN solution: Not good for general sterilizing, especially in nurseries, but great as an antibacterial flush for injuries. It can be used on human wounds too and wounds tend to heal quicker. (Also see betadine)
  29. PIPETTES (FEEDING NEEDLES): If a bird is injured, sometimes just feeding it enough to keep it alive will eventually do the trick.
  30. PLIERS: Wire cutters, needlenose pliers and other pliers. In emergency situations a bird may be caught in wire in a crushed or fallen cage. A band can be caught on a wire or a bird can get its wings caught in the wire of the floor of a cage. The easiest, least traumatic thing to do is to cut a square loose first and then snip the bird free.
  31. POPSICKLE STICKS FOR SPLINTS (also see dowels)
  32. POWER INVERTER (CONVERTER) for the car. Damark Catalog carries some good ones as do Marine (ie boats) stores. Be careful. Two from Walmart burned out because they weren’t strong enough to handle a heating pad.
  33. PREPARATION H: Not only stops itching but bruises will heal faster.
  36. RINGERS is used to save shocky birds and other animals. One avian vet reports they are beginning to think that birds have trouble metabolizing one of the ingredients in Ringers and are using just sterile saline now. Many still go with the Ringers as they had very good luck with it. However both sterile saline and sterile water can be used when that is all that is available.Another vet pointed out that a hypoglycemic animal can die because Ringers doesn’t have glucose in it and suggested even keeping that on hand too.
  37. RAZOR, Straight edged razor (safety kind).
  39. SALINE, STERILE or contact lens saline for eye injury flushes is very good to have on hand. Necrosis to eyelid or eye tissue is often deadly to birds because of the amount of area in the skull the eye encompasses.
  40. SCALPEL: Note if one can’t find a scalpel, an exacto knife and extra blades is an alternative.
  41. SCISSORS: one sharp pair, one pair of small blunt nose.
  42. SPLINTS: popsickle sticks, dowels, round toothpicks.
  43. SYRINGES, STERILE: 1 cc or 1/2 cc for injections. Larger syringes such as a 3 cc or a 10 cc to draw up solutions such as saline or Ringers and then switch needles or attach a needle of small gauge to it. Usually a 25 to 28 gauge needle is great, 1/2 inch length.
  44. TAPE: VetWrap (trademark reg.) Found in most stores in bright shocking colors…sticks to itself, not the bird., our overall choice of tape. It can be used on dogs, goats, chickens, quail, parrots, the T-stands or perches for better grip, even on human boo boos.Duct tape. The standard fabric type (not the new metalic stuff) can be used to tape cracks in a window or tape a piece of plywood, cardboard or plastic over a window that has blown out.Reinforced Packing tape. Packing tape reinforced with fiberglass is available in many supermarkets. It can be used to hold a broken cage or carrier together. It can make otherwise unusable items (such as a length of pvc pipe) into temporary braces in less than a minute. Handy when power tools are not available.
  45. TOOTH PICKS (round kind): Dowels of various sizes for splints. A straight edged razor (safety kind).
  46. THREAD: Regular sewing thread. This can be used for many things including tourniquets for small birds.
  47. TUBING, PLIABLE RUBBER in various sizes can be used for force feeding or for tourniquets.
  48. TWEEZERS: 2 or 3 different sizes and shapes are suggested.
  49. VETWRAP (see Tape)
  50. The following great idea was sent to us by Deryl and Elke Davis:
    We go camping every so often and sometimes we have baby birds to feed, so I had to come up with a way to transport them in a warm environment. Since I don’t like spending money on something I can make myself, I came up with this very simple brooder heater.All it takes is a piece of wood cut a little larger than a 10 gal aquarium (this is what we use). I attached three ceramic light fixtures (purchased at lumber yard) to the bottom of the wood. I bought three 25 watt, 12 volt standard size light bulbs (purchased at either an RVcenter, Marine supply center or a good parts supply house) and enough 14 or 16 gauge electrical wire to wire everything together and have a power cord 6 to 10 feet long. Then just attach a cigarette lighter adapter (purchased at a good RV marine center) to the end of the wires (make sure the adapter is a good heavy duty one like would be used on a spotlight or 12 volt vacuum cleaner). We hardly ever have to use over two lights but in extreme cold its nice to know you still have that extra light for back-up.Once we arrive at camp, we just change the heat source over to the one I built using 60 watt, 120 volt colored light bulbs. I also wired a thermostat (purchased at feed and seed store for $19.95) so we can maintain whatever temp we need. It’s real easy to construct and is very inexpensive. Approximate cost for the 12 volt lighting system is about $20. The 120 volt system because of the thermostat and colored lights still only costs about $40 to $50.

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