Does your household have an emergency plan in the case of a natural disaster or emergency? If yes, be sure to revisit it yearly to make sure it is still relevant. If not, it is time to start planning! For those with furry family members, it is important to keep them in mind as you plan. Having an evacuation plan and emergency kit for your family, including your pets, is a key component.
Why a kit and evacuation plan? Both are essential should you be stuck in your home during a disaster, or need to move at a moment’s notice. To weather a storm with your dog or cat, read on for our emergency planning tips.
Before disaster strikes
There are a few key things you can do to prepare for a disaster before it strikes. For starters, make sure that your pet’s ID tags and microchip are up to date, and that your contact information is clearly labelled on their pet carrier.
Having a harness, booster seat, or pet seatbelt can be useful if you need to evacuate quickly by car with your pet. Having your pet restrained securely in the backseat is the safest spot for them. For smaller animals that would be evacuated in a pet carrier or crate, make sure they are familiar and comfortable with their mode of transport. This will keep them calmer in the event of an emergency. Just like you would practice your evacuation plan with your family, you may also consider doing test drives with your pet in their carrier or crate, so that this form of transport becomes part of their routine.
It’s every pet parent’s worst nightmare to be separated from their pet during an emergency. While it’s difficult to think about, it is best to prepare for the worst. Consider drafting a missing pet handout containing your pet’s key identification information, such as their microchip number, characteristic features, and current photo. Be sure to also include your contact information. If your pet goes missing in an emergency, you can distribute these flyers quickly and easily to get the word out. This may sound like an unnecessary precaution, but in the event of an emergency your emotions will be heightened and you’ll be glad you planned ahead.
It is important to note that most emergency evacuation shelters do not allow pets. As part of your evacuation plan, think about friends or family members outside of the evacuation area that might be willing to provide your furry family members with safe shelter for a few days in the event of an emergency.
Of course, not everyone has that option. So, it is important to think ahead and know your options before a disaster strikes. Speak with your local animal shelter or veterinary clinic to get advice about where you can take your pet. Another option is to identify pet-friendly hotels along your evacuation route.
No one likes thinking of emergencies, but being prepared is the best way to help keep your family members – both human and furry – safe in the case of a natural disaster. And even if you don’t anticipate needing to evacuate with your pets, many of these tips are still good to keep in mind for when you travel with them. Once you’ve completed your plan, you can print a copy and keep it on hand so that you’re prepared the next time you and your pets head out on a road trip!
Once you have your shelter and route determined, you can turn your attention to an emergency kit for your pets. Knowing what to include in the kit ahead of time can save you precious time in the event of an emergency evacuation, and will help to make sure you don’t forget critical items. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Food & Water
Evacuations can cause traffic jams. It’s not uncommon to be stuck on the road for hours. Have plenty of food and water on hand in case you’re unable to get to a grocery or pet store. A good rule of thumb is to pack enough pet food and water to last at least two weeks. Be sure food is stored in an airtight, waterproof container. If your pet food comes in a can, be sure to pack a can opener.
For dogs, be sure to pack plastic bags. For cats, pack their litter box and plenty of litter. It can also be helpful to have some paper towels, cleaning products, and garbage bags on hand in case you need to clean up any bathroom-related accidents.
First Aid Kit
Accidents can happen at any time, especially in an emergency situation where you will be out of your regular routines. Be sure to include your pet friendly first-aid kit as part of your emergency pack. This will allow you to provide urgent care, treat wounds and/or tend to injuries if needed.
If your pet takes medication on a regular basis, make sure you pack a two-week supply. It is also a good idea to bring along pharmacy contact information, vaccination certifications, and any other medical records.
Comforts of Home
Your pet is a creature of habit, and having their favourite toys, treats, and blankets can help comfort them and reduce anxiety in a stressful situation. You may also want to have an extra collar and leash on hand for extra security.
Make several copies of your missing pet flyer so that you have them available to distribute if needed.
List of routes and accommodations
Have multiple routes mapped out in case regular routes are off limits in the event of an emergency. Identify the pet-friendly hotels on these various routes, and make note of their contact information in your emergency kit for easy reference.