Disaster preparedness is critical, regardless of whether you live in an area prone to natural disasters. Whether you’re dealing with an earthquake, flood, tornado, hurricane, or any other type of disaster, you should have a plan. You also want to ensure you have an emergency kit and supplies in case of any disaster. Having these in place will help ensure that you and your pets are as safe and secure as possible. For example, here in Illinois, you are more likely to have to deal with a tornado than an earthquake. In any case, this information should apply to any disaster.
Emergency Kit for Pets
Having an emergency evacuation kit for yourself and any other household members is essential. It is necessary to have one for your pets too. Your kit should always be in a secure and easily accessible place. The last thing you want is to have to search for it when you should evacuate.
Your pet kit should include:
- Harnesses, leashes, or carriers for transporting your pets safely and ensuring that they cannot escape.
- Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and a manual can opener if your pet eats canned food.
- Copy of medical records stored in a waterproof container.
- A first aid kit.
- Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost. These can help you get reunited with your pet.
- Information about your pet:
- Name and number of your veterinarian, especially important if you have to board your pets or leave them with a foster.
- Feeding schedules
- Medical conditions
- Any behavior problems
- Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.
- Know your emergency destination ahead of time. Shelters for human victims do not often allow animals. However, motels in the area will probably accept them in an emergency. Call destinations in advance and find out which ones will accommodate you and your animals.
By having these things ready to go at a moment’s notice, you will be able to evacuate as rapidly as possible. Taking even just an extra 10 minutes to find something during a disaster can mean life or death for you or your loved ones.
It also means that you should have everything you need for your pet to survive any disaster until you get more supplies.
A study published by the AVMA found a high rate of return of microchipped dogs and cats to their families compared to those not microchipped. This study also pointed out the importance of getting the microchip registered with a database. For example, there is a free registry called Free Registry.com
Disaster Preparedness – Have a Plan
Having an exact plan is essential to ensure your safety and the safety of your pet. Here is a link from the American Red Cross with an Emergency Preparedness Checklist.
We suggest you type out the list of steps to take if you find yourself in a disaster. Something like:
- Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way.
- Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers and make sure they are wearing identification.
- If you have a room you can designate as a “safe room,” put your emergency supplies in that room in advance, including your pet’s crate and supplies.
- Get your car keys.
- Get medications (for you or your pet).
- Bring everything out to the car.
- Drive to the designated address where you know it will be safe.
You could make it much more detailed than that, but you get the idea. Once you have made your list, you should practice it. You might think it is stupid to go through all the trouble of doing those steps before an actual disaster happens, but it is vital. The whole point of all this is that you and your family will have the highest possible chance of not having anything bad happen during a disaster. Also, by practicing your plan, you may learn of any steps you might have missed.
The AVMA has an excellent free brochure that includes even more information. We encourage you to read it. You can find the flyer here.
Disaster Preparedness for Horses
Disaster preparedness is important for all animals, but it takes extra consideration for horses because of their size and their transportation needs. It is imperative that you are prepared and able to move your horses to a safe area as fast as possible. There are also some other equine-specific resources that you can look at here, since horses are more of a challenge to deal with in a disaster.
No one wants to experience a disaster, but disaster preparedness means better safety for you, your family, and pets. We here at Hillsboro Advanced Veterinary Care hope that you never have to go through a disaster; if one happens, though, we want you prepared. Please contact us if you have any questions about disaster preparedness or need any veterinary service.
Dr. Stacey Funderburk
Hillsboro Advanced Veterinary Care