On the heels of Hurricane Harvey, with Hurricane Irma barreling toward Florida, and with the western United States ablaze in forest fires, it’s time to think about creating a disaster plan if you don’t already have one.
You never know when an emergency may come knocking on your door, and a lack of preparation could force you to leave your pets behind or lose them during an evacuation. Here are 3 things to keep in mind while creating a disaster plan that includes your pets.
#1 – Know ahead of time where you can take your pets – and what’s required
Many emergency shelters set up in cases of disaster don’t allow pets. Many hotels won’t allow pets either. Before disaster strikes, have a few places in mind that you can take your fur family if you aren’t able to evacuate with them. Pet boarding facilities or vet clinics may be able to watch your pet, but you may need to provide proof of vaccinations or bring your own kennel. Having a plan can help spare you the heartbreak of leaving your pet behind to save your own life. Even something as simple as a carrier may mean the difference between taking your dog on a plane to evacuate or being forced to ride out the storm at home because the airline wouldn’t allow your dog on the plane without a carrier.
#2 – Prepare a pet disaster supplies kit
You may not have very much time to evacuate in case of a disaster, so you should have emergency kits ready for every member of your family, including your furry companions. Your pet’s kit should include a crate labeled with their name and your name and contact information, bowls, collars, leashes, food, water, pictures of you and your pets, and their medical and vaccination records. These are all best kept in a waterproof container that can be easily carried. Your pet should be microchipped and wearing a collar with a tag that has your current contact information.
#3 – Have a backup pet caretaker if you can’t get home to rescue them
A neighbor or nearby family member should have keys to your home and written proof of your permission to care for your pets in case of an emergency. Say you’re at work when a wildfire races toward your home – a neighbor may reach your pets before you to get them to safety. The more backup plans you have, the more likely your pets will survive a disaster. Don’t forget to add pet alert stickers to your front door or window in case rescue professionals arrive at your home before you.
#4 – Know your pet’s favorite hiding places
Many pets respond to fearful situations by hiding. In some situations, knowing where to find your frightened pet in a hurry can mean the difference between life and death. This is one situation where it may be handy to have a pet that’s crate trained and finds comfort in their kennel.
Check out 8 Safety Items Ever Pet Parent Should Have for more ideas on what to include in your disaster kit, as well as your everyday life.