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As Wildfire Season Heats Up, Make Plan for Pets

Wildfires in the western United States have doubled since 1985, according to a study from the University of Idaho. (Michael Pellant/Bureau of Land Management)
Wildfires in the western United States have doubled since 1985, according to a study from the University of Idaho. (Michael Pellant/Bureau of Land Management)
July 31, 2017

BOISE, Idaho -- Idaho is in the destructive heart of wildfire season, which already has forced evacuations in areas across the state. When fleeing from these dangerous situations, it's important to keep pets in mind.

Faith Berry, associate project manager with the National Fire Protection Association, said Idahoans should have a plan of action ready not only for themselves but for their dogs, cats, horses or any other pet at risk. She said preparing a pet evacuation kit could be an important tool for saving an animal's life.

"That would include information about your vets, information about special diet requirements for your pet, as well as harnesses, food and phone numbers written down in a notebook, because sometimes cell phones don't work,” Berry said.

She said Idahoans also should make plans with neighbors. They could be helpful for getting pets out of harm's way if a wildfire moves in while their owners are at work or can't get back to their house.

Preparation for wildfires is becoming more important. A 2016 study from the University of Idaho found the number of forest fires in the western United States has doubled since 1984.

"It does appear that there are more frequent wildfires and also that they're increasing in intensity and severity,” Berry said. "So, it is good to have a plan in place and to look at what your pet needs."

Berry said Idahoans also should sweep leaves and needles off their decks, clean gutters and keep at least the first five feet around their house clear to reduce the risk of fire.

Her group's website - nfpa.org - has more helpful tips on how to protect homes from fires and keep animals safe.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID