An emergency can strike at any moment, it's important to be prepared! The best way to protect your family and pets from a disaster is to have a disaster preparedness plan in place ahead of time. Your plan should include things like an emergency supply kit and a pet care buddy system plan. Check out these tips so you can be prepared the next time a disaster strikes.
1. Prepare - Emergency Supply Kit
- Food and Water: Have at least 5 days of food and water in an airtight container. Make sure it is easily accessible.
- Medicine and Medical Records: Have an extra supply of medicine along with directions for administering it. Be sure to have copies of your pet's most recent medical records, as they may be required for your pets to be accepted into a shelter during an emergency.
- Identification: Have up-to-date ID tags on your pets at all times. Consider microchipping your animals to help ensure their safe return in the event they get lost during an emergency. Be sure it is registered with up-to-date contact information. Have a photo of you and your pet together in case you are separated to help document pet ownership.
- Crate or Carrier: Have a sturdy, safe, and comfortable way to transport your animals safely. Include a blanket or a favorite toy to help relieve stress when traveling with your pet. Be sure to bring a harness and leash for when you are ready to take animals out of their crates.
- Sanitation: It is your responsibility to clean up your pet's waste, even during an emergency, Be sure to bring litter, a disposable litter pan, trash bags, brushes, and disinfectants.
2. If You Evacuate - Make a Plan
- Lodging: Remember that many evacuation shelters do not allow pets. It is important to make arrangements for you and your pets prior to when an emergency strikes. Make sure you have multiple options including a friend's house, family out of town, and out-of-state shelters, and pet-friendly hotels and motels.
- Buddy System: It is important to have a backup plan with neighbors, friends, or relatives in the event you are not home when an emergency strikes. Be sure they know where you keep your emergency kit, have easy access to your home, and will be available if your pets need to be evacuated.
3. If You Stay Home - Be Prepared
- Safe Room: If you are waiting out a storm or other disaster at home, it is often necessary to stay together in an area that is animal friendly. Keep emergency supplies in your designated safe room including fresh water, nonperishable food, pet food, and any other emergency supplies. Be sure to close off any unsafe areas such as a fireplace or vent where a frightened animal may try to hide and potentially become trapped. Keep windows and doors shut and remove any toxic items from the area. Keep carriers, collars with ID tags, and leashes close by in case you are forced to evacuate.
4. Stay Connected - Be Ready
- Stay Informed: It is important to know ahead of time what kind of natural disasters your area is prone to. Get to know the emergency plans that have been established by your state and local governments and plan accordingly. Be ready to adapt to new information and news that may affect your personal circumstances. Follow all instructions provided by the authorities and disaster relief workers. If you are a resident of Ventura County, sign up for VC Alerts to have alerts sent to your phone and email when a disaster strikes.
5. After a Disaster - Be Aware
- Observe Your Surroundings: Your home and neighborhood may be a very different place after a disaster. Landmarks and scents your pets are accustomed to may be gone, potentially causing them to become disoriented. Be sure to keep your animals on a leash or in carriers close by after a disaster has occurred.
- Do Not Let Pets Run Loose: It is easy for pets to get lost after a disaster alters the environment they are accustomed to. In the case of floods or fires, you will need to search your home and yard for any wild animals that have sought refuge on your property. Scared wild animals can pose a serious threat to your pets.
- Be Patient: Try to get your pets back to their normal routine as soon as possible. Be prepared for any behavioral problems caused by stress. Contact your veterinarian immediately if any serious health or behavioral problems occur.