Those areas affected need to prepare ahead of time
with extra heaters, humidifiers, possible overnight accommodations for staff, extra food and water, and even the
possibility that the power may go out.
AAALAC and the USDA allow for emergency conditions
over short periods of time, but a prepared facility will get
through the disaster better and the staff will be safer. In
2015, Boston transportation was shut down for 45 days
because of all the snowfall. The average disaster plan usually handles up to a week. What do you have in place for a
PLANNING FOR DISASTER
Aside from an Injury Illness Prevention Plan, every
Emergency Action Plan (EAP) should include an Emergency
Operations Plan for care of the animals. EAPs for people
may give instructions for chemical hazards, evacuation,
active shooter and criminal activity, but many institutions
neglect to include the natural disasters in their area as well.
Emergency Operation Plans should also include disasters
where the animals may not survive such as Superstorm
Sandy that hit New York University in 2012.
One of the easiest things to take care of is to make sure
your institution has some form of a Corporate Emergency
Access System. All animal husbandry and vet staff should
be on city and county essential personnel lists so if they can
get to work they will be let in through police lines. Make
sure your plan includes contact and access to the State
Emergency Operations Plan. If your area or state is declared
a “State of Emergency” knowledge of state operations will
give you access to additional help from the National Guard,
Red Cross, and other government agencies.
Overall we cannot prepare for the hundred year flood or the
blizzard of the century, but with recent increases in massive
weather fluctuations (droughts, floods), hurricanes, or fires
every year that damage hundreds of thousands of acres, we
need to think long term.
Cheryl Pater, BS, RVT, RLATG, CMAR, is a Training/Safety
Specialist at the University of California, Davis. cspater@
Safety for Humans and Animals
Cheryl Pater, BS, RVT, RLATG, CMAR
In a previous article, I discussed lab animal allergies in lab animal staff. But what happens if conditions in nature cause the air quality to become worse?
While most animal facilities have modern HVAC systems
that may scrub out gases, smoke and particulate matter, there
are many older faculties or outside facilities where issues in
the air will get into the vivarium. Or the staff may have to
work in conditions made more difficult by nature.
AIR QUALITY ISSUES
This summer, massive wildfires devastated California. The
air quality was poor, even in areas not directly affected by
fire. Staff that were already susceptible to lab animal allergies
found themselves having asthma attacks, or with reduced
stamina. Animals in kennels, barns or pastures were affected
due to poor air quality, showing signs of distress or respiratory
In situations like this, staff may have to wear N95 or other
respirators full time indoors and outdoors. Your occupational
health professional should be brought in to discuss measures
that can be taken with staff.
OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS
Natural disasters, such as blizzards or “nor’easters,” may
cause the humidity to drop below Guide standards or the
heating systems may not be able to keep up with the outside
air and sub-zero conditions. Staff may not be able to make
it to work and outdoor staff may not be able to tolerate such