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News & Views May 2016 Issue

The Disaster May Not Be About Climate

You need to think quickly and be prepared no matter what.

Constance smelled smoke. John, then 12, was showering in preparation to go to a French lesson. Franklin and Rosie were hanging out in their usual spots—he under the couch; she, on it. I was at the office. Typical day.

At first she tried to ignore it. “Someone must have their fireplace going.” It was one of those raw March days. But the odor grew stronger, and seemed to be more prominent on the side of the house, whereas it’s usually our neighbors across the street who are the most likely to throw logs on the grate.

She opened the back door and saw smoke billowing from the garage next door, just a couple of feet from our barn, with the wind blowing in our direction. She ran over to the neighbors, banged on their kitchen door, and barely had to spit out the sentence before they sprung into action. Flames were now licking their garage windows.

Constance ran back in, screamed up the stairs to John to come down immediately—by that time he was smelling it, too—and scooped up the dogs (well, you can’t really “scoop” Franklin) and put them in the back of the car. John came running—no socks or shoes or coat for the cold weather—and they made it out of the driveway literally seconds before it was blocked by the fire trucks. With the neighbors’ garage and our barn so close together, and the barn just across the narrow driveway from our house, they did not know if they’d ever be returning to the place we called home.

Everything turned out okay. The neighbors’ garage was demolished, yes, with a big swag of yellow police tape keeping everyone out for days to come. But the fire fighters had gotten there in enough time so that no other structures were damaged.

But what if they had been? Our neighbors had two dogs, too.

Yes, we have relatives living not too far, but they are not comfortable with dogs. And if we had to rent an apartment until we got re-settled, would there be places that took pets? And what about a motel until an apartment could be found? Would it take pets?

We were just one little crisis involving a couple of houses. When the crisis is climactic in nature, involving hundreds or even thousands of homes because of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, or other weather-related events, these questions loom larger, and even more problematic.

The thing to do is at least be prepared for the crisis up front. You want to do everything you can to keep your dog with you, and to make sure you have enough food, water, and cleaning supplies should you have to keep your pet sheltered somewhere. The article beginning on page 10 breaks down the preparedness steps to take—even if it never seems like it’s going to happen, and with good luck, never ever will.

Happy tails to you,

Lawrence Lindner
Executive Editor

Comments (2)

I think if you have fireplace as well as pet at your home, you must take proper care of your pet. It is important that you keep an eye on your dog, so that he could not harm himself due to fire. You can read more article like this at Thanks for sharing this article!

Posted by: SamanthaCarey | September 16, 2016 11:21 PM    Report this comment

The reality and sense of "that could be me" in this story emphasizes my families need to plan for this. Tornadoes do pass through our area, and with three dogs (2 quite large), a safe place for them and for us will take some planning. Food and water must be a consideration. And what if roads are closed to all but emergency vehicles?
This is a good time to make plans. Thanks for the reminder!

Posted by: KatJanes | May 1, 2016 11:28 AM    Report this comment

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