September is National Preparedness Month – a month dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies. Disasters come in many shapes and forms, and you don’t always have time to plan before one strikes. That’s why it’s so important to prepare comprehensive plans in advance to keep your entire family safe – including your pets! Pets are a part of our families, but it’s easy to overlook their unique needs when developing a disaster plan for your family. In recognition of National Preparedness Month, we’ve detailed four helpful ways to include a pet in your disaster plan.
Snacks are often at the top of any emergency pack list, but we often don’t think about getting food prepared for our pets! It’s a good idea to keep spare kibble or non-perishable food on hand for easy access in an emergency – either in storage bags, airtight containers or the original packaging. Pets also need plenty of fresh, clean water so be sure to store extra for them.
If your pet needs medicine, make sure you store it in an easily accessible area. You should also discuss alternative locations and ways to refill their prescriptions with your veterinarian in case of a long-term evacuation.
Pets might also need special supplies, so it’s important to take those into account when making your disaster plan. Having an extra leash, walk supplies or cat litter on hand is a great way to ensure that you can quickly evacuate your pet in an emergency. Remember that everyday pet carriers and kennels are not always transportable, so have an alternative, portable carrier for your pet or plan a way to keep them safely confined.
One of the best ways to keep your pet safe during a disaster is a microchip! Microchips greatly increase the chances of finding your pet if they are lost. Not only is it important to microchip your pet, but you should also regularly update the contact information on their microchip registry. Contact your veterinarian or microchip manufacturer to update any information.
Microchips should not be an alternative to a traditional collar – make sure your pet always has a collar tag with up-to-date addresses and phone numbers. You should also regularly take updated, clear photos of your pet and any identifying characteristics in case they are lost. This will help others identify them more easily if they are found or if a disaster causes loss of internet connection.
When an emergency happens, pets can get lost in the chaos. Your disaster plan should always include a designated pet supervisor. Assigning specific tasks and duties during emergencies helps ensure that no details or furry friends are forgotten.
You should also assign a designated pet guardian outside your immediate family. This person should have updated veterinarian information, access to where your pet lives and knowledge about their dietary or medical needs. Having a designated emergency contact for your pet ensures that they are always safe and taken care of no matter what.
Keep in mind that pets spend most of their time in our homes. Any emergency plan should also include a way to alert neighbors or first responders of your pet’s location if an emergency happens when they’re home alone. You can also attach stickers to your doors and windows with important information about your pet – like where their kennel is or where they hide – for first responders.
Emergencies are scary, but especially for a pet because they don’t know what’s happening. When pets are scared, they can lash out, run away or hide. Factoring their comfort into your emergency plan can help prevent this. Make sure to include their favorite toy, a stimulating treat or a comforting item when making your emergency plan. This will help keep them calm and cooperative so you can focus on keeping them safe.
Although emergencies often happen without warning, you can help keep your pet safe by planning and preparing in advance. Including your pet in your disaster plans is a great way to ensure their safety! For more tips about general pet safety, check out previous blogs on our website.