Disaster Preparation: Don’t Forget Your Pet!

When preparing for a disaster, you may have learned to focus on the 5 P’s: People, Pets, Prescriptions, Pictures, and Papers. But when it comes to preparing for the unknown that a disaster can bring, aside from not forgetting your pet, how do you prepare for your pet’s life should a disaster arise?

How to Get Prepared

It is impossible to image the chaos and ensuing confusion that comes during an evacuation unless you have had the experience. Anything that you can do in advance will help to assure your best results for a safe and successful evacuation. To prepare for your pet start by focusing on the following seven steps:

  1. Basic Needs – Have a minimum of five days food and water for your pet. You can set aside food from their regular feeding and swap it out at the end of the bag so it stays fresh.
  2. Medications – Keep a minimum of five days of medications in a waterproof container. Again, this can simply be swapped out during normal use to keep it fresh.
  3. Control / Comfort – Your pet may be out of their home and environment for an extended period. They may be with you in a shelter with other people and pets. To keep them safe and secure have sturdy leash, harness, or carrier. Keep a blanket for warmth and comfort.
  4. Sanitation – Have a litter box, litter, scoop and disposal bags for cats. For dogs have waste disposal bags.
  5. Identification – Make sure your pets have a collar with current contact information, using a cell number for the contact number will help reconnect if you are separated, your home phone may be down or unavailable. Also consider a microchip. Take current pictures of you with your pets to help with identification and proof that you belong together should you get separated.
  6. Paperwork – Put in a copy of vaccination records and any vital medical information.
  7. Backup Plan – Swap keys with a neighbor or friend so that someone can get your pet out in case you are unable to get home in time to evacuate your pets. Have a written set of instructions for medications and feeding with notes of any special needs.
    Put the contents of your pet evacuation kit into a box, tub, or bag that you can grab and go. This does not have to be anything fancy a plastic tub with a lid, an old suitcase, or a canvas bag will all work.

The biggest hurdles to putting together a disaster preparedness kit are cost and effort. Don’t let these hurdles place you or your pet in jeopardy.

What to Do When Trouble Comes

When disaster comes it is always best to evacuate early then to try to wait it out or stay to try to save your home. The earlier you evacuate the calmer you and your pet will be and the more options you will have. The unfortunate truth is that there is most often nothing that anyone can do to save their home from the ravages of a disaster.

What to Do After the Disaster

Once the disaster has passed and you return make sure that your home and property are safe for you and your pet before letting them loose.

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