In case of emergency contact:

Call (650) 325-5671

Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital Blog



Water in Depth

Welcome back to the earthquake prep series. In our last installment, we covered food and water - the true basics of your emergency preparedness kit. Here, we'd like to dive a little deeper -- into water. 

First we'll cover water storage and secondly we'll talk about water treatment. 
 
If you have a swimming pool, don't even think about it. Ingesting small amounts of swimming pool water isn't particularly harmful, but several days' worth, while they fix the water pipes, is a bad idea. Pool water contains chemicals that could cause diarrhea or otherwise speed dehydration. Storing emergency water is a much better idea, and your pet will like it better.
 
Consider where and how you'll store it. The standard one- and two-gallon containers typically found in grocery stores are not designed for long-term storage, and are likely to begin leaking after about 6 months. 
 
Also, water should not be stored directly on concrete, which degrades plastic bottles, causing them to fail, plus allows chemicals to leech into the water and contaminate it. A good idea? Place water stores on a wooden shelf or palette where container failure won't damage other supplies.
 
Is there an EASY option? Well, yes. Commercial water distributors assert that the 5-gallon containers they offer are "good" for 5 years if factory sealed, and stored properly. That's the easiest, if you get water delivery. We called the commercial distributors (Alhambra, Calistoga, Arrowhead, Sparklets etc.) and none of them would deliver a one-off order for emergency prep. Slightly less easy is to store your own. 
 
What to store it in? Vessels made from plastic, glass, fiberglass, or metal lined with enamel are suitable. Avoid using any lids with paper components. We're not huge fans of plastic, but in this case, it seems like a better idea than the potential of broken glass jugs. We found that Whole Foods sells 2-, 3- and 5-gal BPA-free plastic jugs with screw tops and a handle. The 5-gal can be a bit difficult to lift, but the 3-gal is pretty manageable, particularly with the handle. 
 
There are boxed water options as well, which are BPA-free and Coast Guard approved with a 5-year shelf life, available in 3-packs of 250ml each
 
But what if you live in a tiny apartment and barely have room to store all your shoes, let alone storing water?  Water treatment is a more compact option, though you're betting that water will be available. Also, if you have your basic 3 days of water stored, or better 7 days for a stronger quake (or the whole 2-3 weeks worth for major M8 quake), and want to go beyond even that level of readiness, adding water treatment is an idea. 
 
The classic water treatment technique is to boil it to prevent microorganism growth. If you're forced to get creative and pull water from the toilet (the tank, not the bowl, eww) or drain the water heater, boil it. Another classic is to add liquid household chlorine bleach that contains 5.25% sodium hypochlorite, and no soap or added perfumes, at a ratio of 16 drops per gallon (which equates to 4 drops per quart, or 8 drops per half-gallon, or 1 drop per cup, whatever's easiest to remember). 
 
It is OK to use bleach that has "Not For Personal Use" warnings, as long as sodium hypochlorite is the only active ingredient, and only the small amounts recommended are used. If you don't have a dropper, here's a Girl/Boy Scout trick that's easy to remember: place a thin strip of paper or fabric (say a 1/4" wide and 2 inches long) into the bowl of a spoon and add bleach to the spoon. Carefully tip the spoon, and medicine-dropper sized drops will drip from the dangling end of the paper or fabric strip.
 
Other options include a trip to your favorite survival or camping store. Purification tablets are small and inexpensive, or purification systems range in price from about $40 to about $120. Considering that you're betting there will be some water to purify, we recommend treatment and purification only as an added option to actual water storage. Going shopping this weekend?  Did we mention that Whole Foods has BPA-free 2- and 3-gal jugs with handles? ;^)  Good.
 
Check back in for our next installment that moves beyond the food-and-water basics to some things you may not have thought about yet.
74

The Latest Buzz about Mosquitoes

We interrupt this earthquake prep series for a quick reminder that it's that time of year to consider heartworm treatment for your dog or cat. No, it wasn't the fact that water storage as a topic is on our minds, but since you brought it up, getting rid of standing water will help mitigate an increase in the mosquito population.

You see mosquitoes are what spread heartworm to our favorite canines and felines. What got our attention was the spike of cases to 153 in San Mateo County.

 
72
 
While 153 isn't exactly an epidemic, the spike is a solid reminder that this disease is most active in the month of May. The need for heartworm protection applies not just if your animal goes outside, since infected mosquitoes are thought to prefer to be indoors. The protection from the oral or topical medication extends to a heartworm infection that occurred several weeks ago (up to two months).
 
The heartworm treatment is given once per month to protect your animal year round, but if you are going to do it, May is the perfect time to start. Call the hospital if you need to consult with your doctor about which is the right medication for your pet.
 
And now, back to your regularly scheduled 'pet ready' earthquake preparation series.
 
73

First Things First -- Food & Water

We know that our pets rely on us for everything - from food and water to affection and attention, medical and otherwise. So, our emergency preparedness means covering their needs too.

For those among us who tend to improvise, this bears repeating... in a disaster, our pets count on us - and the usual tools of improvisation may not be available. So, here is your heads up to stock up.
 
The CA state government preparedness guidelines suggest at least three days of food and water per person. The keywords being "at least," we recommend if you're just starting to build a kit, include at least three (3) days worth, which covers a basic seismic event in the mid-to-high M6s or low M7s, a bigger M7 event needs seven (7) days, and the "max" M8 event needs 2-3 weeks of non-perishable food and water, for you and your pet.
 
"That's nuts," you say?  Not if you like being fully prepared for a nasty hit, when bridges and other arteries will be out of commission. Water mains rupture, but with broken roads it could be a while before they get fixed. Considering our region's proximity to the San Andreas fault line AND the Hayward fault line, which some scientists say is due, preparation is important. This is not Virginia, folks - and even they get lucky sometimes.
 
Since pets are members of the family, it's easy to count each just as you would a person. Water guidelines suggest one gallon per person per day. For ease, start with that same idea per pet and use good judgment. If your household has two or three cats - that one gallon per day should be sufficient. Remember: stress will impact them, and they may want to drink more than usual. And, you may want to share with a favorite neighbor or their pet.
 
Food is easier. Identify a non-perishable food option for each pet. Emergency preparedness kits can be stored out of the kitchen, so usually canned food is preferable to dry, because canned food attracts fewer mice or pests, and because canned food contains water. Dry food without sufficient water could make things worse. Keep a hand-crank can opener handy or use pop tops. Bland food choices are usually better when pets are under stress. The technical term for bland food is an "Enteric diet" which we stock in three brands: Hill's Prescription Diet® i/d®, Purina Veterinary Diets® EN and Iams® Veterinary Formula™ Intestinal Low-Residue™. But if you ask for an Enteric Diet, you'll get bland, and after stress bland is grand.
 
Rotate pet food annually, perhaps when one cleans out the pantry for the holiday food drive. Again, 3-days worth is expected to cover a basic event in the mid-to-high M6s or low M7s, 7-days worth for the middle M7s, and 2-3 weeks worth (what you might need for a M8) is the biggest prep you ever need to worry about.
 
You don't have to do it all at once. Start out with basics first. In this case, start with 3-days (basic), and, when you can, go to 7-days (bigger), etc. The point is to get started!  Add the food and water task to this weekend's grocery list and you'll have it done! Tune in next week, when we'll tell you little more about water storage.
71

Taking the Fear out of Earthquakes

Often people get scared just thinking about earthquakes and being prepared, and that's not fun, so they don't. Can't blame them. We've wondered how to take fear out of the picture, while empowering the anxious and non-anxious alike. 

Essentially, watching events unfold in Japan and the process of putting together the Stand By You and 'Pet Ready' event projects really brought this home for us, and served to reiterate the importance of being prepared in earthquake country
 
Since the seismic event date is unknown, it's easy to procrastinate. But please don't: your animals depend on you and need you to be ready. They need you to take care of yourself in an emergency so you can take care of them. And they need a few extra considerations for you to be earthquake prepared for them too.
 
In return, readiness will reduce your anxiety as well. To help, we will provide action items in digestible steps, including the "why" and "wherefore." If you act on our steps, you'll be ready before you know it. So, set your RSS reader or check in as we post a series of snackable nuggets -- taking earthquake prep one step at a time.
 
If you're already ready, tune in anyways, since we look at everything through animal-colored glasses and may mention something you'd not thought about before. Worst case scenario, your own thinking is validated and that never hurts anyone. 
 
First thing to know is there are limits. We do not live in a subduction zone, like Japan or Seattle, which is where one tectonic plate is pushing under another. Our faults are strike-slip, where plates rub against each other horizontally, producing less violent events, relatively speaking. ;^) The Hayward fault is expected to top out around Magnitude 7.5(a), while the San Andreas has a max probable Magnitude of 8.3(b). So, in a lot of ways we're lucky, but the point is that it's absolutely possible, and some would argue necessary, to be equipped for a maximum event. 
 
You don't have to do it all at once. You can start to get ready for a basic earthquake, say mid-to-high M6s or low M7s (where M stands for magnitude). You can pretty much bank on these happening, it's just a matter of when. Consider it baseline readiness for living here. Then you can add and get ready for a bigger earthquake, say in the middle M7s, and sleep much better. Once you've got that covered, if you want, you can get ready for the biggest M8 and sleep like a baby knowing you're prepared. Call us crazy, but we want our clients to "sleep like a baby" knowing they're ready to take care of themselves and their animals, no matter what. To quote Martha, "It's a good thing."
 
We'll start with food and water -> tune in on Thursday!
70
 
 
 
 
(a) Steinbrugge et al (1987)
(b) Wesson et. al (1975)
 
 

 

Earthquake: are you Pet Ready?

Over the last several weeks, earthquakes have remained very much "in the news." Our neighbor, Mexico, had a quake. Then there was the day with the four large earthquakes around the "ring of fire" (an old school term, before the relationship between volcanoes and tectonic plates was understood). One of the earthquakes set a record as the most powerful strike-slip quake in recorded history, coming in at a M8.6. Then, of course the M6.8 off of Baja California in the Gulf of California. 

We're not geologists. We don't know whether the earthquakes are related, any more than we could opine on the Mayan calendar. We're animal people: veterinarians, RVTs and animal-loving support staff.
 
We do make a hobby of disaster preparedness, particularly as it relates to animals. Like many here in the Bay Area, we consider pets as family, and as such, we consider them in our disaster preparedness planning. We'd like to include you too! To this end, first, we at Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital are co-sponsoring an event, with Adobe, to help you get "pet ready" for a disaster, such as an earthquake. The event is free!  Sat. April 28, from 1pm to 4pm at Foothill College.
 
You can learn how to plan for your pet, apply first aid, bandage a broken limb and make a first aid kit. Peter Gross, a search dog handler from FEMA, who led the search-and-rescue teams after Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 will demonstrate search and rescue dogs in action.
 
The Foothill College student vet tech club is organizing and hosting the event. More information is available at <www.foothillscnavta.com>. You don't have to pre-register; just come on by!
 
In addition, starting soon, we will post a series of Earthquake Prep articles here on the blog. If you want to be notified when a new article is posted, you can follow @midpen on twitter.