• Gina Scrofano

Planning Ahead Saves Lives: Animal Disaster Preparedness

Updated: Sep 12, 2018

There is no way of truly knowing what lies ahead of us. With human and Mother Nature, anything seems possible, and we just never know when disaster may strike. When it comes to the unknown, the best thing we can do is prepare for the worst.

The goal is to make well-informed decisions while we are still capable of calmly and safely doing so. This, of course, includes the safety of our pets. As we have learned from past disasters, leaving pets behind during an emergency is like signing a death sentence for our beloved family members.

However, evacuating comes with many challenges, especially with an animal, and if we don't know how or where we can bring our pets, we sometimes stay behind; putting ourselves and animals at risk. That is why it is important to plan ahead. The following are tips we can use to ensure the highest potential of safety and survival for our family pets, horses, farm animals and ourselves:

1. Do Not Chain or Tie-Up Animals, or Leave Confined Animals Unsupervised

Tying-up or unsafely confining an animal, especially during an emergency, leaves them unable to flee from harm and is a severe drowning risk.

2. Do Not Leave Pets Behind

Our pets rely on us to keep them safe, please do so by bringing them with you if you evacuate. When evacuating during an emergency or disaster, there is no way of confirming when you will be able or allowed to return. Whether you're forced to stay out of the area for several days or less than an hour, that leaves your pet vulnerable to theft, getting lost, injury, and death.

3. Get A Pet Disaster Plan

This valuable HSUS Pet Disaster Plan includes: Proper ID for your pet What to have in a pet disaster kit Securing advanced evacuation plans Links to locate pet-friendly hotels, and more. Click Here.

4. If Your Pet Doesn't Have Tags - Write Your Number On Their Collar

It’s vital that your pet has up-to-date vaccination and ID tags, however, if you do not have time to obtain tags leading up to an emergency, write your name and phone number on your pet's collar with a permanent marker.

5. Keep A Clear Picture Of Your Pet In Your Cell Phone

6. Disaster Plan For Farm Animals Click Here

7. Disaster Plan For Horses Click Here

8. How To Help Community/Stray Cats

You may not be able to take them with you, but there are ways that you can help stray cats survive. Click Here

9. Disaster Plan For Birds, Reptiles and Small Animals

Found in last three paragraphs on this list by the ASPCA, Click Here

10. American Red Cross First Aid Mobile Apps

These mobile apps provide First Aid instructions for People and Pets, Click Here

11. ASPCA Mobile App

This single app includes a guide for Lost Pets, Disaster Prep and Emergency Alerts, Click Here

12. Wireless Emergency Alerts & Weather/Storm Mobile Apps

Call your wireless provider (e.g., Sprint, Verizon, etc.), and ensure you're signed up for Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to receive notifications on your phone about emergencies in your area. You may also download a weather mobile app (from the app store on your phone) for reports, storm tracking, and important notifications. Examples: NOAA Weather Radar, FEMA Weather, NOAA Storm Radar, The Weather Channel

13. NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR)

The NWR is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting warnings and post-information on severe weather, earthquakes, chemical releases, AMBER alerts, etc. For radio stations/frequencies and event codes, Click Here.

13. Backup Computers and Phones

Backup your important documents on your computers and cell phone, such as with the Apple iCloud, Verizon Cloud, or Dropbox. You may also email documents to yourself. Keep in mind you may not have access to the internet for extended periods of time during an emergency or disaster.

14. Fire and Water Safe Boxes

It is beneficial to keep important documents in fire-safe/waterproof boxes. Documents can include copies of your birth certificate, medical records (for you and your pets), contact information, insurance policies, tax records, receipts, etc. You may also keep an updated and labeled flash drive with all your important computer documents in that box. Be sure to take additional copies of your documents with you if you must evacuate, bearing in mind you may not have immediate access to a computer and electricity. Fire/water proof boxes and file cabinets are available online and at local retailers.

15. Dry Bags

Waterproof or water resistant bags keep our belongings dry during heavy rain or flooding and are also widely available. Such bags are can be found online using the keyword 'Dry Bags' and 'Waterproof Backpacks.’

16. First Aid

First aid kits for humans and pets have similarities. You can purchase people and pet first aid kits online or at a local retailer, or create your own by piecing items together and storing them in a waterproof or water resistant bag. The HSUS and ASPCA both have great pet first aid kit tips.

17. Portable Phone Charger

If you evacuate, be sure to bring your cell phone and charger with you. Portable phone/laptop chargers also come in handy as they allow you to charge your devices (for a limited time) without the need for electricity. You may find them online by searching 'portable charger'.

18. Window Ladders

Fires, disasters and burglaries happen when you least expect it and you never know when you may have to escape a hazard by window. A ladder can mean the difference between life and death, or safety and broken bones. Collapsible window ladders are easy to store and can be found online or at local construction/home improvement retailers. Be sure to store ladders in the rooms where you will likely need them at the time of an emergency, such as an upper level bedroom.

19. General Emergency Kits

For an additional guide on what to pack in an general emergency kit for people Click Here, or download a pdf version Here.

20. General Disaster Preparedness

For vital information on how to prepare for all different types of emergencies and disasters such as severe weather, power outages, wildfires, and shootings, Click Here.

Following these tips and remembering to always remain calm during a disaster can mean the difference between lost lives and survival for us, and our cherished animals.


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