Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, hazardous material spills -- disasters can strike anytime, anywhere. If you think you will never have to evacuate unless you live in a flood plain, near an earthquake fault line or in a coastal area, you may be tragically mistaken. It is imperative that you make preparations to evacuate your family and your pets in any situation. In the event of a disaster, proper preparation will pay off with the safety of your family and pets.
If You Evacuate, Take Your Pets
The single most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to take them with you when you evacuate. Animals left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Animals left behind inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows. Animals turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents. Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence.
Don't Forget ID
Your pets should be wearing up-to-date indentification at all times. It's a good idea to include the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area -- if your pet is lost, you'll want to provide a number on the tag that will be answered even if you're out of your home.
Find a Safe Place Ahead of Time
Because evacuation shelters generally don't accept pets (except for service animals), you must plan ahead to ensure that your family and pets will have a safe place to stay. Don't wait until disaster strikes to do your research.
If You Don't Evacuate
If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together.
As the Disaster Approaches
Don't wait until the last minute to get ready. Some Warnings can be issued hours, or even days, in advance.
Make sure your disaster supplies are ready to go, including your pet disaster kit.
In Case You're Not Home
An evacuation order may come, or a disaster may strike, when you're at work or out of the house. If you use a pet-sitting service, it may be able to help, but discuss the possibility well in advance.
After the Storm
Planning and preparation will help you weather the disaster, but your home may be a very different place afterward, whether you have taken shelter at home or elsewhere.
You may not be in a flood zone or have to flee wildfire, but even a hazardous material incident on a nearby street could force you to evacuate. It pays to be prepared!
Disaster Supply Checklist for Pets
Every member of your family should know what he or she needs to take when you evacuate. You also need to prepare supplies for your pet. Stock up on non-perishables well ahead of time, add perishable items at the last minute, and have everything ready to go at a moment's notice. Keep everything accessible, stored in sturdy containers (duffel bags, covered trash containers, etc.) that can be carried easily. In your disaster kit, you should include those items that your pet uses regularly (food, treats, medication, toys, etc.).
Other useful items include newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items, and household bleach.