In disaster-prone California, where wildfires, floods, and earthquakes occur with all-too-often increasingly regularity, pet owners should be prepared for emergencies. Here are tips from RedRover to help you make an solid safety plane.
1. Microchip your pets: Microchip identification is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Be sure to keep the microchip registration up-to-date, and include at least one emergency number of a friend or relative who resides out of your immediate area.
2. Keep a collar and tag on all cats and dogs: Keep several current phone numbers on your animal’s identification tag. Identification on indoor-only cats is especially important. If your home is damaged during a disaster, they could easily escape.
3. Plan a pet-friendly place to stay: Search in advance for out-of-area pet-friendly hotels or boarding facilities, or make a housing exchange agreement with an out-of-area friend or relative. Never leave your pet behind if you evacuate.
4. Use the buddy system: Exchange pet information, evacuation plans, and house keys with a few trusted neighbors or nearby friends. If you’re caught outside evacuation lines when an evacuation order is issued, your neighbors or friends can evacuate your pets for you.
5. Prepare an emergency kit for each animal: To help alleviate some of the stress that happens during an evacuation, create and take an emergency kit for each animal if you are forced to leave unexpectedly. Keep your kit in an easy-to-grab container or bag and periodically check and update it. Here some suggested items to keep in your kit(s):
• One-week supply of food. Store food in a water-tight container and rotate it every three months to keep it fresh. If you use canned food, include a spare can opener.
• One-week supply of fresh water. If officials declare your household water unfit to drink, it’s also unsafe for your pets. Follow American Red Cross guidelines for storing emergency water for your family and your pets.
• Medication. If your animal takes medication, a replacement supply may not be easily available following a disaster.
• Copies of vaccination records.
• Photographs of you with your pets to prove ownership.
• Photographs of your pets in case you need to make “lost pet” fliers.
• Temporary ID tags. If you’ve evacuated, use this to record your temporary contact information and/or the phone number of an unaffected friend or relative.
• Carrier or leash for each animal. Caregivers of multiple cats or other small animals can use an EvacSak, which is easy to store and use for transport.
• Pet first aid kit. This can include items such as gauze, adhesive tape, cotton balls, cotton swabs, ice pack, tweezers, antibiotic treatment, and more.
6. Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside of your immediate area: If a disaster has affected your community, emergency veterinary facilities may be closed. Pets may become injured or ill during the disaster, so make sure you know how to access emergency facilities. You can also check with your vet to find out if they have an emergency plan that includes setting up in an alternate facility.
7. Plan for temporary confinement: Physical structures, like walls, fences, and barns may be destroyed during a disaster. Have a plan for keeping your animals safely confined. You may need a tie-out, crate, or kennel.
8. Comfort your animals: Your animals will appreciate your calm presence and soft, comforting voice if they are stressed after a disaster or while evacuated.You may find it comforting to spend time with them, too. Some animals may be too scared to be comforted. Interact with them on their terms. Some animals may find toys, especially long-lasting chew toys, comforting.
9. Know where to search for lost animals: When animals become lost during a disaster, they often end up at a local shelter. Keep the locations and phone numbers of the shelters in your area readily accessible.
10. Get children involved in disaster preparedness plans: The book Ready or Not, Here it Comes! by RedRover Responders Team Leader Howard Edelstein discusses how to prepare for all types of disasters to safeguard families and the animals in their care.
Kaleigh Friedrich works for RedRover. Learn more about the nonprofit at RedRover.org. The organization has worked since 1987 to bring animals out of crisis and to strengthen the human-animal bond through emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance, and education.
Nonprofit organization RedRover is experienced at helping animals and their people survive disasters and emergencies. Pet owners can better prepare for survival in the disaster-prone Golden State by following some of the tips the organization has pulled together here. Many are straightforward and simple, but a few require more thought and planning. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be ready.
Main article photo by: Photos courtesy RedRover