How Can You Prepare for Everyday Emergencies
These are example scenarios that could happen to you at any time, anywhere in the country.
The roads are icy, traffic is a mess and you decide to stay with a friend instead of risking the drive home from school or work. Who will check on your cat and feed her?
While you were out running errands, a propane truck overturned on the street near your neighborhood and you are not allowed to go home. A police officer tells you the electricity to your neighborhood was shut off. How can you make sure your birds stay warm?
Your mother-in-law has had a heart attack and you are going to meet your wife at the hospital. It may be a long night. Who will give your dog his medicine?
The Humane Society of Greater Niagara recommends the following actions to make sure your pets are taken care of in an emergency situation:
Find a trusted neighbour and give him or her a key to your house or barn. Make sure this person is comfortable and familiar with your pets.
Make sure the neighbour knows your pets’ whereabouts and habits, so they will not have to waste precious time trying to find or catch them.
Create a pet emergency/disaster kit and place it in a prominent place where your neighbour can find it.
If the emergency involves evacuation, make sure the neighbour would be willing to take your pets and has access to the appropriate carriers and leashes. Plan to meet at a prearranged location.
If you use a pet sitting service, they may be available to help, but discuss the possibility well in advance.
Find A Safe Place Ahead Of Time
Because evacuation shelters generally don’t accept pets (except for service animals), you must plan ahead to make certain your family and pets will have a safe place to stay. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to do your research.
Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size and species. Inquire if the “no pet” policies would be waived in an emergency. Make a list of animal-friendly places and keep it handy. Call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.
Check with friends, relatives or others outside your immediate area. Ask if they would be able to shelter you and your animals or just your animals, if necessary. If you have more than one pet, you may need to house them at separate locations.
Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in emergencies; include 24-hour telephone numbers.
Ask your local animal shelter if it provides foster care or shelter for pets in an emergency. This should be your last resort, as shelters have limited resources and are likely to be stretched to their limits during an emergency.
In case you are not home
An evacuation order may come, or a disaster may strike, when you’re at work or out of the house.
Make arrangements well in advance for a trusted neighbour to take your pets and meet you at a specified location. Be sure the person is comfortable with your pets and your pets are familiar with him/her, knows where your animals are likely to be, knows where your disaster supplies are kept and has a key to your home.
If you use a pet-sitting service, it may be able to help, but discuss the possibility well in advance.
Don’t forget ID
Don’t forget ID Your pet should be wearing up-to-date identification at all times. This includes adding your current cell phone number to your pet’s tag. It may also be a good idea to include the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area—if your pet is lost, you’ll want to provide a number on the tag that will be answered even if you’re out of your home.
During The Disaster
When you evacuate, take your pets with you.
The single most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to take them with you when you evacuate. Animals left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed. Animals left inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows. Animals turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents. Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence.
If you leave, even if you think you may only be gone for a few hours, take your animals. When you leave, you have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able to go back for your pets.
Leave early—don’t wait for a mandatory evacuation order. An unnecessary trip is far better than waiting too long to leave safely with your pets. If you wait to be evacuated by emergency officials, you may be told to leave your pets behind.
If you don’t evacuate, have shelter in place.
If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together. Be sure to close your windows and doors, stay inside, and follow the instructions from your local emergency management office.
Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say there is an imminent problem. Keep pets under your direct control; if you have to evacuate, you will not have to spend time trying to find them. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.
If you have a room you can designate as a “safe room,” put your emergency supplies in that room in advance, including your pet’s crate and supplies. Have any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies. If there is an open fireplace, vent, pet door, or similar opening in the house, close it off with plastic sheeting and strong tape.
Listen to the radio periodically, and don’t come out until you know it’s safe.
After The Disaster
Planning and preparation will help you survive the disaster, but your home may be a very different place afterward, whether you have taken shelter at home or elsewhere.
Don’t allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet will probably be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations.
While you assess the damage, keep dogs on leashes and keep cats in carriers inside the house. If your house is damaged, they could escape and become lost.
Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible, and be ready for behavioural problems that may result from the stress of the situation. If behavioral problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.