Moving forwward to identify 30 ways in 30 days for individuals and families to become better prepared for emergencies, I have stressed the importance of having a Family Emergency Plan. If you have not yet done so; you can download a Family Emergency Plan Template here:
In developing your Family Emergency Plan it is important not to forget to plan for your family pets as well. If you plan for everyday emergencies you'll be better prepared for disasters.
Anticipate situations where you may not be able to get home to care for your pets and make arrangements for your pets in advance:
- Identify people that could assist in caring for your pets on short notice and make sure they have access to your house.
- Be sure to let an emergency caret-taker know about your pets habits and wherabouts inside your home so they can be easily located.
- Create written instructions and a care plan in advance and post it in your home. Make sure the care plan includes where your pets' food is and where and how you normally feed them and keep their water bowl, and if they need any medication.
- If you use a pet service, determine in advance if they will be able to help in case of an emergency.
In the event of a disaster you can be better prepared in advance by making sure your pet is wearing a collar and identification which is current and easily visible. Another step you can take to increase the likelihood of being successfully reunited with a lost pet by having him or her micro-chipped. Also remember that if your pet was adopted from a shelter or rescue organization, to make certain that the registration has been successfully transferred to you and is not still with the adoption group.
Instead of your home phone; put your cell phone number on your pet's tag, because evacuation may have occurred when you were not home and you may be denied access to your home in an evacuation area. You should also include the same out of state contact number that you identified in the family communications plan in order to facilitate reunification with your pet.
Develop a basic disaster kit for your pet as well which includes:
- Food and water.
- Medications and medical records.
- Waste disposal tools and resources.
- Control mechanisms like leashes, harnesses, and carriers.
- Current photos of you with your pets and detailed descriptions of your pets.
- Pet beds and toys.
- A written care plan with feeding schedules, medical conditions, and behavior issues along with the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.
Identify a place to stay with your pet in advance of an emergency.
- Contact local emergency management organization to determine if pet shelters have been pre-identified in your community.
- Find a pet-friendly hotel or motel: Here's an online resource for pet-friendly hotels:
Be sure to check on restrictions on number, size, and species. Keep a list of animal-friendly places handy, and call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.
- Consider making emergency arrangements in advance with friends or relatives.
- Think about a kennel or veterinarian's office as an option which may be available on short notice, at least on a short term basis until longer term arrangements can be made.
- Don't automatically rule out your local animal shelter Prepare in advance for your pet in case you're not home
- Make arrangements for your pets with trusted neighbors, friends or family member in advance who could access your home to take your pets.
- If you use a pet-sitting service check in advance if they could be available to help.
Some important points to remember:
- Recognize that if the environment is not safe for you, it won't be safe safe for your pets either. If you evacuate; make sure to take your pet with you; even if you think the evacuation may only be short term, because you may not be allowed to go back for your pets if the evacuation is longer than you may have anticipated.
- If you think that evacuation is a possibility, don't hesitate or wait and if at all possible evacuate early.
Returning home after a period of evacuation will be an adjustment for your pets as well and the environment may not still yet be entirely safe:
- Don't allow your pets to roam loose.
- While you assess the damage, keep pets controlled or in carriers.
- Be patient and anticipate a period of transition back to normal routines.
Remember that in developing your Family Emergency Plan it is important not to forget to plan for your family pets because your pets are part of the family too.