Plan for you and your Pet to Survive a Natural Disaster

Don’t be unprepared when it comes to caring for your pet’s safety during inclement weather. Think about and plan, a strategy for when an emergency situation strikes. All of us should have a preparedness plan in place should tornadoes, fires, violent storms or floods happen.

It would seem that in the last several years, the weather conditions have clearly worsened, making it necessary to have a plan not only for the safety of our family, but for our pets, as well. Think about how you will move your pet(s) in an emergency situation. We’ve all seen the news during horrendous conditions, such as wild fires or hurricanes like Katrina and Harvey.

Things to include for your get-away include leashes or crates, a lightweight totebag carrier/container for a bird, ferret or rabbit. Also recommended are bottled water and the animal’s food. In longer term disasters, notes Dr. Eurell, a veterinarian at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana, IL., “you need to prepare with food, water and medications for your pets.”

Also handy is a large blanket or thick quilt to help protect you and your pets from dangerous flying glass or other debris in a storm. Learn how to turn off the gas and electricity in your home and be sure to include any needed tools in your kit. A flashlight, cell phone and charger, and weather radio are also musts. Another item that may save lives is a copy of the Pet First Aid book, available through the Red Cross. Taking a class in first aid/CPR for animals might also be a good idea.

Our pets should wear a collar at all times, complete with the owner’s name and cell phone number. This simple gesture can dramatically increase the chances of you and your pet being reunited should you be separated. Microchipping, which most dogs and cats receive today from their vet, is also something to seriously consider. Perhaps keeping a copy of your pet’s vaccination, and of your driver’s license can also be helpful.

As with all storms, choosing a safe place in your home is necessary; even practicing a drill helps us be as prepared as possible. Go to a basement, crawl space, area under a stairway, or interior room without windows. As soon as the sirens start, go to your designated spot. Take all warnings seriously. Such disasters as mudslides, earthquakes, floods move quickly and often don’t allow time for people and animals to get out of the affected area.

Plan for all possible emergencies, from fires in your own home, to natural disasters. Does the fire department know that you have animals in your home? I have a fire safety sticker notice in the front window of my home to alert police and fire that animals live here.

With good reason, pets are not allowed at disaster relief shelters. However, many states are working to provide shelters for pets and/or working with shelters in other states to accommodate separated pets.

After a disaster, be patient with your pets, try to get them back into their normal routine. Be ready and alert to behavior changes caused by the stress of the event. If there seem to be any health problems, consult your vet. When storms strike, you may not be able to get home immediately.

Therefore, it’s good to have a backup plan or person who can reach them. Make sure your backup person or neighbor has a list of your pet’s feeding and maintenance schedule and habits. If you utilize a pet service, determine whether they have any kind of available help during emergency situations.

Contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Red Cross for more detailed emergency information. Start getting ready now!

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