Pet Calendar: National Preparedness Month For Humans & Their Pets
By Robbi Hess ~ Managing Editor Pet Calendar, Crimeless Cat Executive Story Editor, Chief Cat Herder
#HurricaneHarvey and the impending #HurricaneIrma have shown us the importance of preparing for natural disasters. While it’s sometimes not possible to prepare for every natural disaster, there are steps that humans and pet parents can, and should, take to keep their pets safe in the event of an emergency. Whether you live in the northwest that is being ravaged by wildfires or if you live in the eastern areas of the country that are plagued with blizzards and other cold weather events, it’s important to put together a go-bag for every family member and every pet in the household.
Go here for information on putting together an emergency preparedness kit for the humans in your household. Know what radio station or television channel you will listen to or watch to get your emergency updates. When you hear warnings for impending natural disasters, keep your cell phones and tablets fully charged. Invest in a car charger for your cell phones, if you don’t already have one.
Know your evacuation route and have at least one alternate route in mind in case the main route is blocked, barricaded or if traffic is at a standstill there.
How will your family communicate with one another in the event of a disaster. Where will you gather in the event of an evacuation? Discuss these plans well before you need them and update them when necessary.
Here is what you will want to consider, at a minimum, when preparing for your an emergency with the pets in your house.
- Know where you can go if you have to evacuate. In my case, I have five cats, two dogs and three reptiles. In many cases, we would not be able to go to most community shelters because of our pets. Also, with the reptiles, I need immediate and continual access to electricity to keep heat lamps on them. Last winter when our power went out and ended up being out for three days, I first wrapped the lizard tanks with heat blankets and put the heat-activated hand warmers under the tanks. After a day, that wasn’t a good solution so my son (who had electricity) came and took the reptiles to his house. I stayed at the house with our other pets. We huddled under heat blankets, but on the second day it was too cold for any of us so we relocated to our daughter’s house. We know that if necessary, there are pet-friendly hotels.
- Have pet carriers readily available. If there is a hurricane or flood or fire, you don’t want to have to tear your garage apart to find the carriers for your pets.
- Keep all of your pets’ veterinary records in waterproof containers, or in your vehicle. Don’t leave home without them.
- Make certain your pets have identification tags with your contact information. The contact information, on the tag or on your pet’s microchip needs to be current in order to be effective.
- Keep your pet’s medicine readily available and refill prescriptions (both your pet’s and yours) in case you’re evacuated.
- Have enough food and water to last every human and pet family member for at least three days. If you have lived through natural disasters in the past you may be well aware that three days’ of water is not enough, so stock up.
- Shop for non perishable foods for both you and your pets (this is important, especially if your pet typically eats a food that requires refrigeration.
- Pack your pet’s favorite toys and blanket.
- Take current photos of your pets in case you need to use them to identify them if you get separated.
- If you’re sheltering in place, it’s wise to lay in at least seven days worth of food and water; seven days food and water for each human and pet in the household.
- Have a pet and a human first aid kit available.
- Other items to have on hand include: flashlight, plastic bags for both garbage and poo, extra kitty litter, warm clothes, solar powered chargers, additional batteries, even a crank radio in case the power is out so long that you go through your battery stash, if you have a gas grill stock up on propane, other items you think you might need to make it through a natural disaster or emergency.
Before you need it, begin gathering all of these items and have them in an easy-to-reach place in case you need to evacuate in a hurry.