Temperature problems include animal rooms which are too hot or too cold, as defined by the AR parameters for housing each species. Minor temperature variances (which involve only a room or two, and are not a short-term threat to animal health) are dealt with by the on-call Supervisor. Serious variances (which involve large portions of facilities, endanger animal health, or are likely to be prolonged) are communicated to the Director.
- Animal health checks: Animals are checked more frequently in affected areas. Overheating is more likely to cause serious health problems for most species, and the temperature should be monitored closely in rooms where the temperature has risen beyond the set limits. Cages with limited air flow such as microisolator caging is of special concern. Health checks may include use of thermometers inside such cages to check the intra-cage temperature. If animals are overheating (the point at which this occurs varies with species and length of the temperature rise) they are moved to a cooler area or one where more air flows over the cages. Portable fans or portable coolers may be considered. Animals experiencing cold conditions may benefit from having the air supply stopped so the environment can be heated by the animals body heat. In extreme conditions, portable heaters may be employed. Additional nesting or bedding material placed in cages may help animals conserve heat, and placing a covering on some cages (e.g., cat paper on top of the top cages in a rack) may also help. Animals which are found to be affected by extreme heat or cold are removed from the environment and then treated or euthanized at the discretion of the veterinarian for the area.
- Food and water supplies: Animals may drink more in warm conditions so water supplies are checked often. Animals in cooler than normal conditions may eat more, so food is also checked more often.
- Sanitation: Sanitation may be suspended if the activities are judged by the Director/designee to increase the stress experienced by the animals. In extended warm conditions, bacterial growth may be enhanced so sanitation may need to be increased to control contamination and odors.
- Environmental support: While repairs are underway, the Director/designee evaluates the availability of and necessity for additional equipment such as fans, space heaters, or other measures such as opening doors. Animals may need to be moved if their lives are endangered, but every effort should be made to prevent contaminating SPF/barrier animals and the Medical Center environment. (See Health Checks above.)
- Personnel: Sufficient personnel are mobilized in the affected area to follow this plan. They may be recruited from other facilities if necessary.