Posted: October 30, 2012, 1:45 p.m. PST
By Gina Cioli/BowTie Inc./Courtesy Amy Baggs.
If it floods in your area, attach Styrofoam to your pet bird's carrier. This will help it float on water if you are evacuating.
If you live in a flood zone or a location where a hurricane can strike and possibly flood your area, take some precautions to keep your birds safe during a catastrophe of Biblical proportions — it might not take 40 days and 40 nights of rain to create an ark-worthy disaster.
First — and foremost — if you evacuate your home because of rising floodwaters, take all of your pets with you. Do not leave any pet to fend for itself. It’s easy to believe that your home is the safest place for a pet to ride out the storm, but that false sense of security is what kills many pets, including pet birds, each year in flood situations.
Here are some tips to keep you and your pet bird safe in a flood:
Prepare For Floods
If your housing has two levels, locate your pet bird’s cage to the second floor. Most of the standing water in Hurricane Katrina was 4 to 8 feet high, but was up to 10 feet in some places, so even the ceiling would not have been safe.
Have a bird carrier ready and stocked for an emergency. Don’t try to add perches or clean the carrier at the last minute, when you may be rushing to evacuate.
Write your pet bird’s name, your name, and all of your contact information on your bird’s carrier in a permanent marker in case you get separated from it.
Keep a small “emergency birdie backpack” (e.g., a disaster kit and information kit) next to your carrier. Include at least seven days of bird supplies in the backpack, all double-bagged in sealable plastic bags to keep everything dry. In a flood, you may be carrying a lot of things away from your home, so don’t make the backpack too bulky.
Place your pet bird’s carrier and “emergency birdie backpack” on a high hook near your bird’s cage or in an easily accessible storage area. This way, they will remain dry if you are evacuating during rising floodwaters.
Keep antibacterial wipes in your emergency birdie backpack. Flood conditions release raw sewage and surfaces are dirty — and potentially deadly — for your bird. Clean your hands every time you feed or handle your bird.
If you fear you may have to evacuate in deep water, attach Styrofoam to the underside and lower half of your pet bird’s carrier (easy with some zip ties and a cheap cooler) to create a floating carrier — this may save your bird’s life if a small rescue boat tips.
Microchip your parrot now if he’s large enough. You will need permanent identification for your bird in case you get separated (this is a good idea regardless of the emergency).
If you don’t evacuate your home, keep all pets with you at all times – do not leave pets in other rooms.
Flood Evacuation Plan
Have an evacuation plan. Don’t “wing it” at the last minute. Know where you are going, and make sure ahead of time that it’s all right to bring your birds.
Make sure that you are allowed to take your birds with you to the shelter or to your friend or relative’s home.
Use caution when removing your bird from the carrier in a crowded shelter. Even though your bird might seem like he needs some “out time,” he’s safer in the carrier for a variety of reasons.
Place a “pet sticker” on all of your home’s doors to alert rescuers about pets inside the home — use a permanent marker to write “evacuated” on all of the stickers so that rescuers know you have left with your pets.
After The Flood
Remember that water will be contaminated after a flood, so have at least seven days of clean water available for your bird, or boil water before using.
Flooding can cause gas leaks, which are dangerous for people, but deadly for birds. Sniff around for gas and if you suspect a leak, call your gas company immediately and keep your bird’s area well ventilated.
Ceilings and walls can collapse after a flood – keep a thick blanket, piece of wood, or sturdy piece of plastic over your bird’s cage in case there’s an issue. But make sure your bird isn’t chewing on anything you put near or on the cage!
One part bleach to 10 parts water makes a good, nontoxic disinfecting solution to use inside your home. Do not allow your bird to touch anything that floodwaters have touched unless you disinfect it first.
Standing floodwater is very dangerous. Not only can it contain deadly chemicals and biological waste, it can conduct electrical current. Keep yourself and your pet birds away from it.
Once the flood has retreated, keep an eye out for mold growth in your home. This can cause deadly illness in pet birds (and people).