Natural disasters happen with very little warning, which is why it's important that pet parents not get caught off guard when a storm or flood strikes. Ensuring the health and safety of our pets should always be a priority, even during a disaster.
Alyssa Fleck of the ASPCA, one of the organizations that works with pet parents in the wake of natural disasters, provided many suggestions on emergency supplies to have on hand to keep your furry family members as safe as possible in a scary situation.
Have a to-go bag and emergency kit ready.
The most basic element of an emergency preparedness kit is having a ready-to-go-bag with water, food, medical records, and any pet medication. That survival kit should include about 3-7 days worth of pet food and water in a sealed container.
- 3-7 days worth of sealed pet food and water
- medical records
- pet medication
- basic cleaning supplies
Maintain that kit by replacing the food and water every two months with fresh supplies. If your pet has certain special medications, you'll need to have back up supplies of those in your kit. And, of course, you can include some of your pet's toys as a comfort for them.
Get your pet crate ready.
Along with having a kit for their needs, it will be helpful to have ways to transport your pet, including crates or carriers. If your pet isn't already accustomed to being in a crate, it's important to take the time to train them to at least be used to a carrier — even if they don't love it. Doing so will hopefully decrease some of the stress on your pet during an already stressful time.
Have identification prepared in advance.
Despite your best efforts, you and your pet may get separated from your beloved pet in the event of an emergency. Your best chances of getting reunited with your four-legged friend are by having an ID tag on them, making sure they're microchipped, and carrying pictures of them with you that aren't on your cell phone. Remember, electricity could be spotty in a natural disaster, so having physical pictures of your pet will help you identify them and keep other people on the lookout in case your phone dies.
Dogs and cats have different emergency needs.
It doesn't matter if you're a dog or a cat person, or a combination of both. When disaster strikes, everyone wants to make sure their fur baby is safe and protected. For dogs, you can help do that by making sure their kit has extra things for them to chew to get out some of their stress. You'll also want to bring their leashes and collar so they can stay near you and, hopefully eventually, go for calming walks around safe areas.
For cats, make sure to bring them disposable litter trays and extra litter. And, of course, maybe some of their favorite scratching toys and some catnip to help the time pass more enjoyably. And for both animals, don't forget bowls so you can actually feed them their food and water.
Create a plan B.
If, for some reason, you and your pet can't evacuate together, have a friend or family member outside of the disaster zone who is willing to take them in. The ASPCA also provides a mobile app that allows pet owners to store and share important information on their animal that can help you both be prepared, and hopefully keep a level head in case of a scary situation.
Never leave your animal restrained during a disaster.
Fleck says to at least remember your pet! "The ASPCA urges pet owners to always bring their pet with them if they need to evacuate. If it's not safe for you, it's not safe for your pet." Never leave your animal tied up or where they can't escape.
Taking some of these steps immediately can help pet parents better keep their furry companions safe in emergency situations.
Other disaster supplies to consider packing
When planning your emergency kit, there are many other things that you could consider packing that will allow you to take better care of yourself and your pets. Here are some suggestions for other things you can pack in your emergency supply kit. For much more information about emergency preparedness, visit Ready.gov, the federal government's website for disaster readiness.
- human and pet first aid kit
- a solar charger or hand crank phone charger
- non-perishable food in pop-top cans or a can opener
- emergency blanket
- extra batteries
- sleeping bags
- duct tape (good for a plethora of things)
- feminine hygiene products
- garbage bags
- hand sanitizer
- hand-crank radio
- moist towelettes
- personal hygiene items
- prescription medications for yourself
- sturdy shoes
- bleach (can be used for to keep water stored safely)
- a gallon of water per person per day, including your pet
- a multi-tool
- a water filter
- a dust mask
Keep these emergency survival kit items in a waterproof container if you can. You may also consider packing up personal items like insurance policies.