National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day

Pet Health and Safety  •  Pam Karkow  •  Tuesday, May 19, 2020

After the crazy rain and unpredictable hail storms we have had lately, I have been thinking more and more about the importance of having a well thought-out disaster plan and emergency kit, for my human children and my pet. In the middle of an emergency, it is difficult to think of all the things one may need to survive for a few days away from home. That’s why it is important to think through what to do in the event of an emergency when you are calm and collected, instead of waiting until disaster strikes to come up with a plan.

On the second Saturday in May, we celebrate National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. This year, this national day falls on May 14. As hurricane season approaches, this is a good time to check your emergency kit to make sure items are current and to replace any items you may have “borrowed” from the kit. If you do not have an emergency kit for your animals, this is the time to prepare one. 

What do I need to have in my kit?

  • bottled water
  • food (at least three days’ worth)
  • bowls
  • litter
  • leash and/or crate
  • required medications
  • vet records including vaccinations
  • current picture and/or description of your pet(s)
  • veterinary first aid kit (dog first aid kit, cat first aid kit)
  • security items (bedding or toys to help ease stress)

Once you have packed your container with all these goodies, place it in an easy to reach spot. Mine is on a shelf in our mud room. It’s easy to reach, but not so accessible that I find myself “borrowing” items out of it when I am in a pinch. I also made a list of the items above on an index card and slipped it in the container so that I can check its contents from time to time, and replenish and/or update as needed.

Pet emergency prepardness steps

This is also a good time to check your overall preparedness for emergencies. Here are some simple steps (adapted from Weather Ready Nation) to help you feel ready:

  1. Determine your risk. When does severe weather typically hit your area? Are you at risk for hurricanes or tornados? Do you live in an area that floods easily? 
  2. Develop an evacuation plan. This is particularly important when considering your pets. If you should need to evacuate your home for any length of time, you will need to know where you can go that your pets are welcome too. Many emergency shelters do not allow pets. Some hotels/motels do allow pets, but make sure yours are up to date on their vaccinations and that you have vet records.
  3. Assemble emergency supplies (see above list).
  4. Write out your disaster plan and hold a family meeting to discuss. It doesn’t do any good to have a disaster plan if your family members are not on the same page. Go over the plan with everyone living in your house and make sure to assign jobs according to ability. Your toddler may not be the best one to be in charge of your golden retriever, but may be entirely capable of finding the cat if you have to evacuate (if it is safe for him to do so). This is also a good time to apply window clings so that emergency personnel can account for the animals living in your home. Here is a link for a set of 2.
  5. Be sure that you have enrolled your pet in pet insurance before an emergency occurs!

Don’t wait until it is too late.  Be prepared today so that, in the event of an emergency, you can react quickly and get your furry loved ones to safety.

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