While no one is immune from the devastation of a natural disaster, preparing before a storm hits is key to keeping everyone in your family—including your pets—safe.
Here are six ideas to keep in mind for your pet as you map out your disaster preparedness plan.
• Have your pet microchipped. In the event of an emergency—natural or otherwise—you want to ensure your pet can get back to you if you’re separated. Collars and ID tags, though important, can break or detach. Pet microchips—computerized and scannable implants about the size of a grain of rice—are more fool-proof since they’re inserted under your pet’s skin.
• Bring your pets inside at the first sign of danger. Disasters can be disorienting for pets, and they could run away or hurt themselves reacting to loud noises and strange changes to their landscape. Also, rain, flying debris and high winds pose a danger.
• If you have to leave, keep your pet with you. Leaving your pets behind during a natural disaster is never a good idea because they could escape or become exposed to a number of life-threatening hazards. Keep them on a leash or in a pet carrier so they don’t escape even in a “familiar” neighborhood.
• Determine where you’ll go. Coordinate, in advance, to stay with friends or family members, or find a pet- friendly hotel outside the disaster area. Have those conversations and do your research well ahead of time so you have a plan in place when needed.
• Create a pet-friendly resource list. Not all emergency shelters will accept pets, so you need a Plan B. Develop a list of the pet-friendly hotels outside your immediate area. Research a list of veterinarians in the area should your pet need medical care (your regular vet may have some recommendations). Also, figure out which boarding facilities are nearby in case you need to separate from your pet for a time.
• Pack an emergency bag. You’ll want emergency provisions packed for your pet well in advance of a catastrophe so you can evacuate your home quickly if needed. Choose an easy-to-carry bag, label it and keep it where everyone in the family can find it quickly. The bag should include a pet first aid kit; enough food and bottled water for a week (rotate this every couple of months to keep it from going bad); medications (check periodically to ensure medicines in your emergency bag don’t expire); cleanup supplies; food and water dishes; bags (or litter for cats) for collecting waste; an extra collar and leash; photocopies of medical records; towels; recent photos of your pets; and a favorite toy or chewy for comfort. It’s also a good idea to have a sturdy carrier or crate for each pet. “
What’s good for us is good for our pets,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing power equipment, small engine, utility vehicle, golf car and personal transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. “My dog is a member of the family, so we have a plan for keeping him safe in the event of an emergency, and we encourage all pet parents to do the same.”
By having all this in place, you can immediately put your pet preparedness plan into action when you know a storm is coming instead of spending valuable time trying to determine what needs to be done to best protect your pet.