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Emergency Pet Prep: How Prepping for Three Kinds of Disasters is Different

By Roxanne Hawn

Pet Disaster Prep for Any Scenario

Most pet emergency preparedness focuses on having to flee your home, but not all disasters are created equal. Consider these different situations, when mapping out your disaster plans.

What if… you had to “shelter in place?”

For your safety, there are some situations where you may be stuck at home during a disaster for days, maybe even weeks, without easy, or any, access to replenish the supplies your pet needs.

If you had to “shelter in place,” as it’s called, would you have enough food, water, medications, and other supplies for your pets if the emergency dragged on for more than a few days?

I live in a rural community, so if we lose power, we also lose water because our well pump is electric. After Super Storm Sandy hit the East Coast, many people living in urban areas also learned this lesson the hard way.

So, when planning your food and water reserves at home, be sure to include your pets. When I first considered this disaster scenario years ago, friends recommended keeping some dehydrated pet food  in the house for emergencies. Yes, it requires water to reconstitute, but it has a longer shelf life than traditional pet kibble or canned food.

What if… you have to flee but have plenty of warning?

Hurricanes are a good example. Unlike a tornado, you typically have several days notice that a hurricane is coming. In these situations, most of the traditional pet emergency preparedness advice applies – such as packing:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Medications
  • Bedding/crates
  • Medications and medical records
  • Toys
  • Leashes/collars

This kind of evacuation is much more predictable and much more likely to allow you to take a significant amount of pet stuff with you.

What if… you have to flee with little or no warning?

I live in a wildfire-prone area of the Rocky Mountains. While (thankfully) we’ve never had to evacuate because of a fire, we know there could come a time when we have to flee our house with little more than the clothes we have on and our dogs on leashes – if a fire starts close-by and makes a quick run in high winds, for example.

For this reason, I highly recommend keeping certain critical information in your car at all times:

  • Up-to-date vaccination records for your pets
  • A complete list of medications, doses, prescription numbers, and pharmacy numbers
  • A list of your regular and closest emergency veterinary hospital locations and phone numbers
  • A list of local animal shelters and phone numbers
  • Pre-made LOST PET signs – both printed out and on a burned CD so that you can run to a local print shop and get updated fliers printed, if necessary

A fellow pet blogger lost everything in an apartment fire a couple years ago. She was so thankful that she had a small evacuation bag already packed and sitting ready in her front closet. She grabbed her kitties and the bag, then she sat out in her car watching the fire consume the building. She didn’t have much, but she had enough.

What other situations might require you to flee?

If you’ve had to flee your home with your pets or to shelter in place for a long time, please share your survival ideas so that others can learn from your experiences. 

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