September is National Preparedness Month and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants to make sure you and your pets are ready in case of the worst. Putting together a disaster preparedness plan and “go kit,” is an important step to ensure that you are able to keep yourself and your pets safe during an emergency.
Did you know that nearly 60% of American adults have not practiced what they would do if they were stuck during a disaster? And, to add to that, only 39% of American adults have prepared an emergency plan and shared it with their household. Disasters can strike at any moment, and they could not only affect you, but they could affect your pets as well.
Below are some helpful tips and items to include in your disaster preparedness kit to help you keep your furry friends safe.
Food and Water: You’ll want to plan for and include at least three days’ worth of food and bottled water for each of your pets in your disaster kit. Keep perishable food items in an airtight container and don’t forget to pack a bowl to feed your pets—an old food storage container may work as a substitute as well. Keep a manual can opener in your kit if your pets eat canned food.
Medications: If your pet requires a prescription, keep a supply (enough for several days) of medication for your pet in a childproof container. Make sure the container is clearly labeled with name of medication, dose and strength of medication.
Leash: Have a leash and collar or harness with current identification information (address, phone and/or email address, microchip number) securely attached. Keep these items in or close to your kit. Remember, your pet is likely to be scared, so make sure they are used to wearing a collar and are not easily able to slip out of it.
Shelter: Some emergency shelters may not allow pets. Be prepared by having a list of local boarding facilities, hotels/motels or nearby friends or family that will allow you to stay with your pet or even take care of your pet during an emergency. Consider keeping this information on your phone or tablet, as well as a paper copy to keep with important medical records. Consider keeping a lightweight crate or carrier with your disaster preparedness kit. This may ease transportation or prevent a frightened pet from bolting.
Important Information: Key information to include in your kit includes: your veterinarian's name, office name and phone number, the phone number and address to local animal control, boarding facilities and local emergency veterinary emergency clinics, as well as the phone number for APCC (888-426-4435). Have a copy of your pet’s medical records and rabies registration, as well as a current picture of your pet. If your pet has a microchip number, you should have a copy of not only the number but which company it is registered with and a phone number to reach them. While much of this information may be kept on your phone or portable device, keeping a paper copy in a waterproof bag is advisable. Also, consider having a way to recharge electronic devices in case you are without power for several days.
Familiar Toy or Bed: Pets frequently are frightened during disasters. Having a familiar toy or bedding to help reassure your pet is sometimes helpful.
Sanitation: Include litter or newspapers as well as litter box in your preparedness kit for your feline friends. Also, have a stash of plastic bags to clean up after your pets.
Pet First Aid Kit: Kits like these can be purchased online or at your local pet supply store. If you are more of a DIY-er, it is pretty easy to put together your own.
Action Plan: Discuss with your family or roommates where you should meet if you are not together at the time a disaster strikes. Make sure everyone knows where they can find your emergency preparedness kit. Also, set a reminder on your calendar every three months to change out perishables and medications in your kit and date and initial it when you are done. Once a year, ensure that all contact information, medical records, addresses, phone numbers and pictures in the kit are current.
Store all of your materials in a large, watertight bin in an easily accessible location.