Thanks to an extended hurricane alert season that lasts well into fall, most Virginians are well-versed in emergency preparation. The state's web site, http://www.ReadyVirginia.gov, offers comprehensive information around a trio of guidelines: "Make a plan, get a kit, stay informed."

Last week, in honor of national Pet Safety Day, the Newport News Fire Department issued similar advice for pet owners, urging them to make advance plans for their pets' safety:

•Do not leave your pets behind in an emergency. If conditions are unsafe for people, then they are also unsafe for pets.

•Plan ahead. If you're evacuated, you will need a shelter that takes pets. Not all do.

•Contact your veterinarian to plan for a boarding kennel. Ask the local animal shelter if they take pets in an emergency.

•Identify hotels/motels along your evacuation route that accept pets. Ask friends and relatives if they'd be willing to take in your pet.

•Have three to seven days worth of food, water, bedding, any medication, and a photo of your pet in case you get separated. Keep the supplies in a place where everyone in the family/residence knows where they are.

•When away from home, confine your pets to an area near entrances so firefighters can locate/rescue them easily if needed.

•Always transport birds in a secure travel cage. Cover with a blanket to reduce the stress of travel. Have a spray bottle to moisten feathers in hot weather. Lizards and snakes need permanent and secure housing once safety is reached. Have a heating pad/hot water bottle to allow them to warm themselves.

•Have a designated family member responsible for bringing pets to a safe place in an emergency.

It's also a good idea to have a visible sticker on the outside of your home to alert emergency personnel that there are pets inside.

Health academies

Last month, Gov. Bob McDonnell approved a Health Science Academy for the Gloucester County Public Schools and Mathews County Public Schools, bringing the statewide total to eight. The most recent one is set up to enroll up to 100 students in classes offered at both counties' high schools.

Students at the academy, which is slated to open in the fall, will participate in workplace-learning experiences through partnerships with Riverside School of Health Careers and Riverside Walter Reed Hospital.

The new academy joins existing ones at Bethel High in Hampton, Warwick High in Newport News and Bruton High in York County.

Each academy represents a partnership between public school divisions, healthcare institutions, the private sector and institutions of higher education to prepare students for careers in the health sector. Jobs related to health-care are expected to show continued growth with the aging of the population.

Caring for caregivers

The Active Lifestyles department of the Newport News Parks and Recreation Department, and Home Helpers, a senior home care company, are offering five free classes for family caregivers on Mondays, from 6 to 7 p.m., at the Brittingham-Midtown Community Center, 570 McLawhorne Drive, Newport News.

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