When preparing for an emergency situation, don’t forget to make plans for any family pets. Just like any other family member, pets are your responsibility, too. Here are some ideas to help you create your disaster plan to care for their basic needs.
- Don’t wait until the last minute, start your plan now. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and identification tag that is up to date and visible at all times. Getting a micro chip inserted will greatly increase your chance of being reunited should your pet get lost. If your pet is adopted from a shelter or rescue organization, make sure the registration has been transferred to you. Add your cell phone number to the tag as well.
- Put together a disaster kit to include:
• Food and water for at least 5 days, bowl, and a manual can opener if you are packing canned pet food. Keep an extra gallon of water on hand to use if your pet has been exposed to chemicals or flood waters and needs to be rinsed.
• Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a pet first-aid kit and book.
• Cat litter box, litter, scoop and garbage bags to collect all your pet’s waste.
• Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers to transport pets safely and to avoid run-aways.
• Current photos of you with your pets and a written description to help others identify them.
• Written information about your pet’s feeding schedule, medical conditions and behavior issues along with the name and contact information for your veterinarian in case you have to board or put them in foster care.
• Grooming items, newspapers or paper towels for clean ups.
- Find a safe place to stay. Be sure to check your local shelters and select ones that allow for pets. This includes checking with hotels and motels that might be along your evacuation route.
- Plan for your pets in case you’re not home or can’t get there by asking a trusted neighbor or nearby family member or friend to take your pets and meet you at a specified location.
- If you must wait out a storm at home, decide on a safe area of your home where you can all stay together. Pet-proof the area. Bring your pet inside as soon as local authorities announce trouble is coming. Put all your emergency supplies in your safe-room. Stay inside until the “all clear” sign.
- Following an emergency event don’t allow your pets to roam loose. They can get disoriented, lost or hurt in some situations.
- Be aware of the dangers high temperatures can cause for your pets. Heatstroke can be fatal. Apply cold towels to pet’s head, neck and chest; let her lick ice cubes and go to the vet immediately.
Billie Nicholson, editor