A tornado strikes your town. A hurricane rushes through your city. A flood destroys your home. You’ve made it through safely, but what about your pets? Have you included pets in your disaster planning?
September is National Preparedness Month, and planning ahead is the key to keeping yourself and your pets safe if a disaster strikes.
Here are 10 tips to ensure that you’re prepared should you and your pet have to evacuate suddenly:
1. Microchip your pets.
Microchip identification is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you’re separated. Be sure to keep the microchip registration up-to-date, and include at least one emergency number of a friend or relative who resides out of your immediate area.
2. Keep a collar and tag on all cats and dogs.
Keep several current phone numbers on your animal’s identification tag. Identification on indoor-only cats is especially important. If your home is damaged during a disaster, they could easily escape.
3. Plan a pet-friendly place to stay.
Search in advance for out-of-area pet-friendly hotels or boarding facilities, or make a housing exchange agreement with an out-of-area friend or relative. Never leave your pet behind if you evacuate! Search for pet-friendly accommodations at:
4. Use the buddy system.
Exchange pet information, evacuation plans and house keys with a few trusted neighbors or nearby friends. If you’re caught outside evacuation lines when an evacuation order is issued, your neighbors or friends can evacuate your pets for you.
Image Source: absolutimages/Shutterstock
5. Prepare an emergency kit for each animal.
To help alleviate some of the stress that happens during an evacuation, we recommend creating and taking an emergency kit for each of your animals if you are forced to leave unexpectedly. You should keep your kit in an easy-to-grab container or bag, and periodically check and update as needed. Here is a list of suggested items to keep in your kit(s):
- One-week supply of food. Store food in a water-tight container and rotate it every three months to keep it fresh. If you use canned food, include a spare can opener.
- One-week supply of fresh water. If officials declare your household water unfit to drink, it’s also unsafe for your pets. Follow American Red Cross guidelines for storing emergency water for your family and your pets.
- If your animal takes medication, a replacement supply may not be easily available following a disaster.
- Copies of vaccination records.
- Photographs of you with your pets to prove ownership.
- Photographs of your pets in case you need to make “lost pet” fliers.
- Temporary ID tags. If you’ve evacuated, use this to record your temporary contact information and/or the phone number of an unaffected friend or relative.
- Carrier or leash for each animal. Caregivers of multiple cats or other small animals can use an EvacSak, which is easy to store and use for transport.
- Pet first aid kit. (Keep in a waterproof container.) This kit can include items such as gauze, adhesive tape, cotton balls, cott
on swabs, ice pack, tweezers, antibiotic treatment and more.
6. Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside of your immediate area.
If a disaster has affected your community, emergency veterinary facilities may be closed. Pets may become injured or ill during the disaster, so make sure you know how to access other emergency facilities. You can also check with your veterinarian to find out if they have an emergency plan that includes setting up in an alternate, emergency facility.
7. Plan for temporary confinement.
Physical structures, like walls, fences and barns may be destroyed during a disaster. Have a plan for keeping your animals safely confined. You may need a tie-out, crate or kennel. Caregivers of multiple cats or other small animals may want to use an EvacSak instead of a carrier, which is easy to store and use for transport. Read more tips for ensuring your pets’ safety during an evacuation.
8. Comfort your animals.
Your animals will appreciate your calm presence and soft, comforting voice if they are stressed following a disaster or while evacuated, and you may find it comforting to spend time with them, too. Some animals, especially cats, may be too scared to be comforted. Interact with them on their terms. Some animals may find toys, especially long-lasting chew toys, comforting.
Image Source: RedRover
9. Know where to search for lost animals.
When animals become lost during a disaster, they often end up at a local shelter. Keep the locations and phone numbers of the shelters in your area readily accessible.
10. Get children involved in disaster preparedness plans.
The book Ready or Not, Here it Comes!by RedRover Responders Team Leader, Howard Edelstein, discusses how to prepare for all types of disasters to safeguard families and the animals in their care.
Above all, it is important to remember: If it’s not safe for you, it is not safe for your pets. Now is the perfect time to start planning to protect what matters most – the people and animals you love.
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