Pet Preparedness in a Disaster
Everybody should have an emergency plan in the event of unforeseen disaster. And if you’re a pet owner, your disaster preparedness should consider their health, safety, and well-being as well. It may seem obvious, but not everybody thinks of it. So here’s a list of tips for pet owners to consider when making emergency preparedness plans.
Any emergency preparedness plan involves starting at the beginning, which is to say, consider based on climate, topography, and geography, which types of disasters are most likely, and plan accordingly. For example, if you live in an area that is prone to certain natural disasters, such as tornadoes, earthquakes or floods, the majority of your preparations should be specific to those kinds of events. In many cases the safest thing to do in an emergency is to stay home so let’s consider some tips for ensuring safety in the home.
Being prepared in the home
- Determine the most structurally sound buildings and make those your safe havens. These will be rooms that are free of hazards such as windows, and excessive shelves along the walls.
- Utility rooms, bathrooms and basements are typically good safe zones because they are easy to clean and they offer access to water, provided that plumbing systems aren’t compromised. Access to fresh water is important.
- If flooding is one of the more likely disasters in your area, pick the highest location in your home as a safe haven. Either that or a room with access to counters or high shelves where pets can take refuge.
Be able to identify your pet in case something happens
- If your pet is lost in the chaos of an emergency, his or her ID tags are their ticket home. Make sure all tags are up-to-date and securely fastened to their collar. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. Also consider micro-chipping your pets.
- Keep a current photo of your pet in your emergency essentials kit.
- Included your cell phone number on your pet’s personalized collar or tags
You’re the caretaker so an emergency for you is an emergency for them
Not only is it important for you to prepare your own emergency food storage, and supplies, it’s also important to prepare an emergency kit specific to your pets needs, like a blanket made of fleece fabric for them to sleep on. Here are a few other items you might want to include:
Manual can opener
First aid kit and other medical supplies
Find a place to stay in advance
When an emergency occurs, public health concerns take precedence over most other things. Sometimes those public health concerns mean pets are excluded from consideration. That’s why it’s important to identify a place to stay in advance. Some emergency shelters are not allowed to accept pets as occupants. Here are some tips to consider.
- Locate motels and hotels in your immediate area that allow pets well in advance of needing them. There are guides that list hotels and motels according to which ones are pet-friendly.
- Include your local animal shelter in your list of emergency numbers.
- Keep a secure pet carrier on hand, as well as a leash and/or harness to make sure they can’t escape if they panic.
After the disaster
Pets continue to need special care even after the disaster is over. If the disaster forces you to leave town, you must take your pets with you. They aren’t likely to survive on their own. In the aftermath, pets may be a little rattled for a while and their behavior may change. But, as long as you leash them when they go outside, always maintain close contact while they reacquaint themselves with their environment, and make sure they steer clear of any new hazards they may encounter due to changes caused by the disaster, they should recover in no time at all.
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