6 Disaster Preparedness Tips to Keep Pets Safe

By PetMD Editorial on Jul. 14, 2015

Don't be caught off guard when a disaster strikes. Watch these 6 emergency preparedness tips on how to create an action plan and protect your pets.

1. Stock a To-Go Pet Emergency Kit

Don’t wait until the last minute to gather everything your pet might need in an emergency. Putting together a portable to-go kit for emergencies and storing it in a safe spot will save you time if you need to evacuate quickly.

Your kit should be waterproof and contain important items, such as a supply of pet food, a safety harness, bottled water, waste cleanup supplies, and any medications or first-aid supplies your pet may need. Pack proof of ownership documents and recent medical records in this kit as well.

Evaluate your emergency kit every year. Replace expired medication and supplies and make sure your documents are up-to-date.

2. Update Your Pet’s Identification

If your dog or cat has a microchip, make sure your contact information—including your address and phone number—is correct. Many pet parents forget to update this information when they move or change phone providers. If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, double check the information on your pet’s collar tag so that someone can reach you if your pet becomes lost.

3. Prepare a List of Pet-Friendly Accommodations

Because of health and safety regulations, many disaster relief shelters do not allow pets to stay with their owners in temporary boarding facilities. Do your research ahead of time and check in with local officials to get a better idea of shelter resources that can accommodate you and your pet in the event of an emergency. Keep a list of pet-friendly hotels handy in case emergency shelters do not allow pets. It’s also a good idea to check in with local animal shelters, rescue organizations, and veterinarians to understand their emergency protocols for boarding displaced pets.

4. Connect With Pet-Friendly Neighbors

Identify fellow pet parents in your community and agree to help each other out during an emergency. If, for some reason, you’re unable to get to your pets when a disaster occurs, your neighbors can act as the first line of defense to rescue your pets. Provide trustworthy neighbors with your pet’s name, your telephone number, and an evacuation plan for your pets. Offer to provide the same assurances for their pets in return.

5. Display a Rescue Decal on Your Home

Put a decal on your front door or on your windows so that emergency responders or neighbors know that you have pets that need to be rescued. Put your pet’s name and your phone number on the sticker so that rescuers can easily contact you if they save your pet. If you are able to get your pet out before recue crews arrive on the scene, make sure to write the word “EVACUATED” on the decal so that everyone knows your pet is safe.

6. Keep a Picture of Your Pet Handy

If you do get separated from your pet during a disaster or emergency, it will be important to have a current picture to show to shelters and to put on flyers. Take a new photo every year and keep it in your wallet, purse, and in your emergency to-go kit so that it is always available.

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