The sirens go off, warning you that danger is eminent. In a perfect world, you gather your family around you and make an orderly exit out of your home and into your waiting vehicle, taking, of course, all the necessary supplies, food, and important paper documents that you need. But this isn’t a perfect world. And when disaster strikes, it comes fast and sometimes without warning. Are you ready to take care of yourself, your family, and your pets?
- Find Pet-Friendly hotels along the evacuation route.
- Keep This List in Your Ready Kit – Names, Address, Phone Numbers.
- Call Ahead For Reservations – Trust Me Better To Book Days and not use them to be told you have to move on.
- Arrange Care with Family, Friends, Your Pet Sitter, Boarding Kennels, Veterinary Clinics.
- Be Sure Your Pet Is Current On Their Vaccinations.
5 Readiness Tips
Pets are often the most variable factors in an emergency situation. When their world is suddenly thrown into chaos, they have no way of understanding what is going on. You cannot explain to them that, although everything is in commotion, there is no real danger. Or, if there is danger, you cannot expect them to follow your directions that would remove them from danger. One of the most basic instincts in animals in the face of danger is to flee and seek safety in hiding. This instinct can complicate things quite a bit if you are trying to quickly evacuate your home. There are some things that you can do to ameliorate this situation, and there are many more things you can do to control or eliminate all the other chaos that comes with sudden disasters. If you have the details squared away, you will be able to better focus on quickly locating your pets and removing them from danger, rather than worrying about other factors at the expense of your pet’s safety.
Although you cannot sit down and talk your pet through your family’s emergency plan, you can prepare them for a situation if it arises. First, select a safe room for your pet or pets. Keep back up stocks of food and litter in this room. It should also have access to running water or a large enough supply of water. Help your pet get comfortable with spending time in this room. You can allow them to play there, leave treats there from time to time, and shut them in for short periods of time to help them get used to it. Pay attention to your pet’s favorite hiding places. If you can align a hiding place with your safe room, half your work will already be done since your pet will naturally retreat to that spot if they sense danger. A safe room is to be used in cases where a disaster is coming that is not serious enough to evacuate for, such as a less-serious weather event that you intend to ride out. Other low-profile events could include things like the 4th of July if your pet is particularly disturbed by fireworks going off in your neighborhood. It could also be an influx of visitors in your home, such as for a party. Safe rooms also work well if your pet naturally goes there when they sense danger. This will allow you to locate them quickly in case you need to leave.
If it becomes necessary to leave your home, always take your pets with you. In disaster situations, it is impossible to predict how long it will be before the danger passes. You don’t want to find yourself barred from re-entering your home or neighborhood and unable to access pets that were left behind. In order to better ensure that you’ll be able to leave with your pets, prepare or buy proper pet carriers that can keep your pet secure. Cat owners will know that a cat that doesn’t want to stay in a cardboard box usually won’t stay in that cardboard box. Pets can be pretty good escape artists when fueled by uncertainty and worry. Don’t allow your pets a chance to bolt. Get them good carriers. The next step is to acclimate them to their carriers. Try to use the carrier for positive experiences so they don’t bolt the moment it appears. Some pet owners leave the carriers out all the time as an extra bed or resting place. This is a great way to provide your pet a piece of home should the need to leave arrive.
When your pet is used to their carrier, run them through a practice drill. This is a great thing for any family to do. Make assignments for who will take what. Which family member will be in charge of securing which pet? Pretend that this will be a three-day evacuation. Do you have enough food, litter, and supplies for your pet? If not, make a supplies bag specifically for your pet. You should also include any paperwork that may be needed to show your pet’s vaccinations and your ownership, if necessary. When you have the carrier, supplies, and paperwork in order and ready to go, you can focus on the most important thing—your pet—when an emergency arises.