Preparing for an Natural Disaster When You Have Pets


September is National Disaster Preparedness Month and the team at Embrace Veterinary Care wants to focus on this important topic. Preparing for any disaster, whether manmade or natural, relies on knowing what to do in the event of any emergency. Adding a pet to the mix also adds to the complexities of sheltering in place as well as evacuation.

In order to help you be prepared for anything, we have compiled some suggestions for rapid response when dealing with a natural disaster when you have pets.

Your Pet Disaster Plan

If you have children, you probably have considered what you would do in the event of a fire, hurricane, tornado, flood, or other disaster. Knowing in advance where you can safely go, what to take, and how to make a quick exit are essential to preparedness. 

A pet natural disaster plan should include all of the following considerations:

  • List  of pet friendly lodging in nearby towns or loved ones who can host you and your pet
  • List of all of your pet’s basic needs, such as a leash with ID tags, food, water, carrier or crate, toys, medications, etc.
  • Your pet’s medical records
  • Ensure you have a rescue alert sticker from the Humane Society or ASPCA to let rescue teams know that there is possibly a pet inside the home
  • Have a few designated caretakers who can evacuate your pet on your behalf, if you cannot
  • Store your pet’s emergency supplies and other pet needs in one central area, so you can leave quickly without forgetting essentials.
During a Disaster

Depending on the type of disaster, many times you will be required to evacuate, such as in the case of a flood. It’s important to understand the right route and destination to get to safety quickly. This is why having a list of pet safe and friendly lodging is key, since most emergency shelters do not allow pets.

If you are required to shelter in place, find a secure basement or area in the middle of the home, such as when dealing with high winds and tornadoes. Seeking higher ground, like a 2nd floor of a home, is required during a flood. Be prepared to respond and seek the right shelter with your pet, based on the specific emergency.

Tips to Safely Evacuate a Pet

If your family needs to leave the home, follow these essential safety tips for dealing with a natural disaster when you have pets.

  1. Never leave your pet behind. Many pets who are left, die of exposure or become lost and never are reunited with their owners. If you must leave them (please don’t), alert emergency rescuers or the police to your pet’s whereabouts. Make sure you have your Pets Inside decal on doors and windows.
  2. Gather all of the essentials, plus several gallons of water. Some disasters may cause contamination in the water system. Never let your pet drink flood water as it contains chemicals and parasites that will harm them. Make sure you have a few extra gallons for your pet.
  3. Keep your pet crated or on a leash as you evacuate. During the stress and commotion, a pet may run away or otherwise escape. Keep your pet near you at all times.
  4. Go directly to your destination. Use the safest, most direct route to your destination. Try not to get side-tracked since it is vital to evacuate quickly. 
  5. Play with your pet when you arrive. Once you are settled in, make time for your pet to ease their anxiety. Go for a walk (if safe) or play a game with your furry loved one. Give them plenty of snuggles and attention, so they know everything will be okay.

Embrace Veterinary Care client’s can request access to their pet’s records by calling our clinic. From there, you will be provided with your pet’s history of vitals, reminders, previous prescriptions, consultation notes, and blood test results. We also recommend that you bring your pets medications in the original bottle.

If you or your pet were harmed during the disaster, get help immediately. If either of you were exposed to chemicals, contaminated water, or other hazards, play it safe by scheduling examinations.

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