Spring and summer are great. They bring sunshine and fun times and pretty flowers, but they also bring some rather scary weather. Even if you don't live in an area prone to tornadoes, hurricanes, or other natural disasters, it is always a good idea to keep an emergency preparedness kit on hand and make your safety plan in advance. Failure to include your pets in your emergency plan may leave you caught off guard or confused in emergency situations if you're not sure how to evacuate them as well as your family.
Safety codes and health regulations do not allow animals in many disaster shelters. Call around to hotels and motels in your area and ask about pet policies. Even if a hotel has a "no pet" policy, ask if that policy could be waived in emergency situations. Keep a list of these pet-friendly places in your kit. You may even consider buying a gift card for the cost of a room to keep in your kit in case you are unable to access your bank account in an emergency.
Ask friends or relatives outside of your are if they could house your pets in emergencies until you can safely return home with them. Additionally, contact boarding facilities and shelters both in your area and outside your area so you have several options to ensure your pets' safety.
Essential supplies should be kept in sturdy and preferably waterproof containers that are easy to carry. Include the following in your pet's kit:
- Medications and medical records
- A pet first aid kit
- Leash, harness, and muzzle if applicable
- Sturdy plastic carrier for each pet
- Current photos of your pet in case they get lost
- Food and bottled water
- Collapsible food and water bowls
- A disposable litter tray if applicable
- Information on feeding schedules, health or behavioral issues, and contact information for your veterinarian
- Blanket or towel
- Easily transportable toys or treats
Place a vinyl rescue sticker on the windows of your home's entrance to alert first responders of the number and species of the pets in your home. In the event of fires, floods, or other home emergencies, this will help emergency workers prepare a rescue plan for your family as well as your pets. Include your veterinarian's contact information on the sticker for easy reference. If you are able to evacuate your pets, write "EVACUATED" across the sticker so responders don't waste time looking for them.
Severe weather and natural disasters can be scary and overwhelming. Planning ahead will help you, and, in turn, your pets, to remain calm and focused in emergency situations so that, even if nothing else, you still have your best friend by your side.