Fires, tornadoes and floods can happen any time. This month is National Preparedness Month (NPM).
There is no better time than now to think about what reaction you would have if an emergency is occurring and you only have minutes to leave your home.
It seems every year is a poster child for disaster preparation. In 2023 we have learned what a bomb cyclone is (again) and what an atmospheric river series of California storms can do – bringing 90 mph winds and a record deluge of rain. All of this creating major flooding and deaths. And 30 tornadoes in one day across multiple states in the South. Flash-floods on already charred or drought stricken earth brings even more danger. The Eastern US has been dumped on with record snow totals many areas.
In Colorado, we wonder if we will catch up from a two decades long drought. Snow has come in great quantities, also causing avalanches. Whether it can be attributed to climate change or not, drying conditions in the West are like a tinderbox, creating high fire danger and lakes that are shrinking water sources.
National Preparedness Month is an observance to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time.
The question is, “What are you prepared to take with you?” People often think of their family (yes, first!), then documents, treasures and pictures. Often, what gets forgotten are the pets needs – special foods, medications, grooming brushes and toys. This article from our friends at the AKC gives you a quick rundown on what to gather in a kit for a dog (but for cats as well!) to be prepared on an instant’s notice:
Floods, storms, wildfires — you can’t prevent extreme weather or disastrous events, but you can take charge of how you respond. These emergency preparedness tips will help keep you and your pets out of harm’s way.
View this video from www.ready.gov to visualize what you can do. Get everyone in your household involved:
Pack Pet-Friendly for National Preparedness Month
Having all of your ducks in a row before the unexpected happens is the best strategy. A grab and go bag, which includes your dog’s essential, will ensure you’re ready for an emergency evacuation. Here’s a breakdown:
Create an emergency binder
It should include:
- Current photo of you and dog in case of separation.
- Physical and behavioral description of your pet. Add details that genuinely depict your dog including breed, age, sex, color, and personality traits.
- Medical records and list of medications. FYI, if you need to board your dog, most kennels require proof of vaccinations.
- Important papers that establish identity and ownership. Think dog licenses, registration certificates, microchip numbers, and adoption papers.
Essential pet supplies for survival and comfort
Pack a suitcase or large tote bag with the following:
- Water and food for at least three days.
- Dog bowls.
- Pet first aid kit – don’t forget medications.
- Pet grooming kit – think nail clippers and brush.
- Collapsible kennel or pet carrier.
- Blankets and towels.
- Extra collar with current dog tags.
- Extra leash.
- Toys and treats for comfort.
- Poop bags.
You can use this Prepare Your Pets for Disasters pdf from ready.gov to get more ideas on preparing with your pets.
What to Do When Disaster Is Pending
Below is a four-step national pet preparedness month plan for you and your pet:
- Keep your pet(s) inside so you won’t have to search for them later.
- Make sure your dog’s (or cat’s) collar is secure, and tags or microchip info are up-to-date.
- Keep your disaster bag within easy reach so you can make a quick exit.
- Call emergency shelters and hotels to confirm which ones will accommodate both you and your pet(s).
Like anything else your pets information can become outdated – Did you move and need to update your pets address and your contact number? Have you gotten new pets you have not put in your registry yet? Do they need new rabies tags?
It helps to pick June 1st as your “checkup” date to make sure you have the latest information for you and your pets where you need it.
When to Evacuate
There is no better time that National Preparedness Month to think about this. You’ll know it’s time to leave when local officials recommend evacuation. Did you know there is an app for that? FEMA has an iOS (Apple store) and Android (Google play) app that includes these features –
- Receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide.
- Share real-time notifications with loved ones via text, email and social media
- Learn emergency safety tips for over 20 types of disasters, including fires, flooding, hurricanes, snowstorms, tornadoes, volcanoes and more.
- Locate open emergency shelters and disaster recovery centers in your area where you can talk to a FEMA representative in person.
- Prepare for disasters with a customizable emergency kit checklist, emergency family plan, and reminders.
- Connect with FEMA to register for disaster assistance online.
- Toggle between English and Spanish.
Remember, if you watched the video above, the safest place for your pet is with you. Extreme conditions can create dangerous conditions for people and animals making it impossible to go back home for days, weeks, or months.
Evacuations are super stressful. While it’s easier said than done, staying calm in a crisis will help to relieve fear and stress for both you and your dog.
What to Do If Your Pet Gets Lost?
Yes, it’s every dog owner’s nightmare. Here’s what to do before your pet roams too far.
- Start searching immediately. First, pinpoint where your dog was last spotted. Then start combing the area within a two-mile radius.
- Enlist your neighbors and friends. Share the best ways to lure your dog using toys, treats, or commands.
- Reach out to your microchip registry service and confirm your contact information is up to date. Good to know: Microchipped pets have a dramatically improved chance of returning home.
- Report that your dog is missing. Contact your local police department, animal shelter, and humane society. Provide them with your pet’s photo and a detailed written description.
- Tap the powers of social media. Post your dog’s photo with a detailed alert on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Expand your reach using relevant hashtags. Suggestions include: #lostdog #missingdog #missingpet.
- Make lost pet posters and distribute them around your neighborhood. Include your contact information and dog’s photo. Don’t forget to mention specific details about your creature including unique markings and behavioral traits.
One of the best things you can do is have your pet microchipped. This can make a big difference in people being able to find you when they find your lost dog or cat. Make sure you keep your registry information up to date (have you moved? did you get a new phone?).
Put all of these items in a designated “disaster preparedness” place in your house or garage. Visit it frequently enough to make sure that food and medications are not out of date. Adding a big sticky note with a list of what is in your kit is helpful, so you can see at a glance what you put in there. When you are in panic mode, you are not going to be thinking of the little details. We hope thinking about these small details during National Preparedness Month will help you be prepared not to panic.
FCVC vets are happy to answer questions you may have about the preparations you need to make for your pets needs in advance of a disaster. Give us a call at 970-587-5140.
You may also be interested in reading about Lost Dog! Oh, no! But Wait, Is He Microchipped? and Preparing Your Pooch For Winter Weather
Attribution – From our friends at AKC, Ready.Gov
Photo – ruby-schmank-783781-unsplash