Emergency Planning For You & Your Pets

Emergencies can strike at any time, day or night. Earthquakes, floods, house fires, and gas leaks are all potential disasters that can require you to immediately evacuate your home. With little or no warning, you may be forced to leave your home with very little time to decide what to take with you. Of course, getting your family and pets out of the house is the first priority, but what else should you take if you can? The best time to decide that is before an emergency occurs. Be prepared ahead of time by making a family emergency plan that includes the well-being of your pets.

As a part of your emergency plan, it is important to remember important documents that your family may have difficulty replacing if they were destroyed. If you keep important family documents in your home (birth certificates, passports, insurance policies, house deeds), keep them in a brightly colored folder that would be easy to recognize and take with you in case of emergency. Similarly, prepare a folder for your pet(s) that includes health and vaccination records and recent photos of each pet. Include veterinarian contact information in addition to pet-friendly hotels and shelters in your area. Made sure everyone in your family knows where the folders are kept.

Evacuating your home with the added responsibility of pets may seem overwhelming. Luckily, there are many things you can do to prepare them for an emergency before it occurs. For starters, ensure that your pet wears current identification at all times that includes your name, rabies tag, and your cell phone number. If your pet is microchipped, make sure the information on file is also up to date. It is also a good idea to invest in a carrier for each of your animals. In an emergency situation, having the ability to confine your pet in a carrier will help ensure their safety and comfort. Pet carriers will make them easier to transport and will be extremely helpful if you need to stay in a hotel or possibly a shelter. For added safety, write your name and cell phone number on each of your pet carriers. If you get separated from your pets, it will help emergency workers easily access your contact information without removing the animals from their carriers.

As a final step in your emergency pet-preparation, gather all of the supplies you will need for your pets and create a “go bag” which you can easily grab in a hurry. Some recommended items to include are:

Of all the things you can do to prepare for an emergency, perhaps the most important is to thoroughly review the evacuation plan with your family. Where would you go if you had to leave your home? Would you go to a friend’s house across town, or if you had to leave the city, where would you go? Determine a destination for both scenarios and make sure all of your family members know the plan. In widespread emergencies cell phone communication may not be available, so making a plan ahead of time will help ensure that you, your family, and your pets can reunite at a pre-planned destination.©