Severe Weather / Disaster Preparedness To Save Your Pet

When Disaster Strikes, Will You Be Ready?

When severe weather strikes, as it has recently in central PA, and the Carolinas, the same rules that apply to people also apply to pets: Preparation makes all the difference, and if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for them. Planning ahead is the key to keeping yourself and your pets safe if disaster strikes. Follow these tips to make an emergency plan for your pets.

    1. Microchip your pets: Microchip identification is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pets are reunited if you are separated. Be sure to keep the microchip registration up-to-date with your information so your pet can be traced back to you.

    2. Keep a collar and tag on all cats and dogs: Keep several current phone numbers on your animal’s identification tag. Identification of 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 housing exchange agreements with an out-of-area friend or relative. Never leave your pet behind if you evacuate!

    Search for pet-friendly accommodations in advance at:

**Just in case the hotels and shelters you have searched ahead of time are affected by the disaster as well, be sure to have a crate or carrier on hand so your pet can be confined to one area and easily transported. Make sure the crate or carrier is big enough for the animal to stand up, turn around, and lie down in case they have to be in the carrier for hours at a time.

    4. Use the buddy system: Exchange pet information, evacuation plans and house keys with a trusted neighbor or nearby friends. If you are caught outside evacuation lines when an evacuation order is issued your neighbors or friends can evacuate your pets for you.

    5. Prepare an emergency kit for each animal: Stock up on the items you may need during a disaster now so you do not get caught unprepared. Below are basic items you should include in your pets’ disaster kits. Store your disaster kit supplies in an easy-to-grab container.

    • One week supply of food. Store it in a water tight container and rotate it every three months to keep in fresh. If you use canned food, include a spare manual 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. In extreme emergency situations you may use regular household liquid bleach to purify water. The proper dilution is 16 drops bleach per gallon of water. Make sure not to use scented or color safe bleaches, or those with added cleaners. **(To use bleach as a disinfectant to provide for your pet’s sanitation needs, the proper dilution is twenty-nine parts water to one part bleach)**
    • Medication. 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 incase you need to make “lost pet” fliers.
    • Cat litter boxes with litter, if you have cats.
    • Blankets (to keep your pets warm or to pick up a frightened animal).
    • Familiar items: Favorite toys, treats, or bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.
    • Pet first aid kit.
    • Temporary ID tags: If you have 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. Remember to make sure the carrier is big enough for the animal to stand up, turn around, and lie down.

    6. Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside of your immediate area. If a severe weather or natural disaster has affected your community, emergency veterinary facilities may be closed. If your pet becomes ill or injured in a disaster, make sure you know how to access other emergency facilities.

    7. Place an emergency decal on your front window or door. If disaster strikes while you are not home, this decal will alert rescuers of the animals inside.

    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. Some animals, especially cats, may be too scared to be comforted, so you should interact with them on their terms.

    9. Know where to search for lost animals. When animals become lost during a disaster, they often end up at a local shelter. Keep handy the locations and phone numbers of the shelters in your area.


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