Hurricane season officially arrives tomorrow. These natural disasters pose a threat to much of the east coast. What would you do if your home was in the path of a hurricane? Are you prepared?
Hurricanes are not the only threat either. What if a tornado were to form near your home? How about a fire or a flood? Are you and your pets prepared for an emergency?
An emergency plan is something that everyone should have in plan, just in case. If you’re a pet owner, that plan needs to include your pets. If you don't already have a plan, this is the time to prepare one. Don't wait until a disaster is upon you. By then, it may be too late.
Here are some tips to help you prepare.
- If you need to evacuate your home, never leave without your pets. Even if you think you’re only going to be gone for an hour or two, take your dogs, cats or other pets with you. Unforeseen complications can occur and sometimes a short evacuation stretches into days, weeks, or even months. And remember, if the situation is dangerous enough to force you out of your home, it’s likely dangerous for your pets as well.
- Prepare your emergency kit in advance and keep it in an easily accessible location. Include your pet's medical records, including vaccination certificates. Be sure to pack enough food and bottled water to last at least a few days for your pet. Don't forget a collar and leash, and a pet carrier. If your pet is a cat, you'll also need a litter box and cat litter. If your pet requires medication, pack enough for a few days.
- Plan where you will go if you need to leave your home and who will care for your pets if they can’t stay with you. Red Cross shelters may not allow you to keep your pet with you. Check out pet-friendly motels and hotels near your location. Or find a friend or family member that can care for your pet until you are resettled.
- Be sure your pet has identification. A collar with an ID tag is a good idea. Be sure to include a telephone number (preferably a cell phone number) where you can be reached easily. Having your pet microchipped is another good form of identification. Ideally, pets should wear an ID tag and be microchipped. The microchip provides a backup in case the tag is lost. Be sure the microchip is registered though. Otherwise, it is useless.
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has more information about disaster preparedness. You’ll find information there about what to include in your emergency kit as well as special considerations for birds, reptiles and small mammals (hamsters, gerbils, mice, etc.) and much more.