With September being National Disaster Preparedness Month and seeing the aftermath of hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, we are reminded of how suddenly our lives can change. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself paranoid, but I am known to be a little on the over-interested side when it comes to being prepared.
When we think about natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, flooding, or mudslides, we have to wonder how prepared we are. How ready is our community to face a disaster? And what about all our pets? Here are some items to consider when it comes to being prepared, and what you can do to ready yourself, the pets, and your community.
Have a Disaster Plan
Every individual or family needs to have a plan in place in the event of a natural disaster, extended power outage, or another type of event. Think about the conveniences we have in our everyday lives and how that can change during an emergency.
- If something happens, how will you stay in touch with family and loved ones? If you are not at home, how will you get home? If you are at home and need to evacuate to a safer area, where will you go? Who will get to your pets?
- Does your community have a plan in case of a disaster? A lot of animal shelters have procedures in place for when a natural disaster strikes, as they would expect a large intake of animals.
- What are some likely events of a natural disaster in your area? Do you live in an area prone to tornadoes? Wildfires? Hurricanes? Make sure your disaster plan includes how to react in those types of situations.
- If you have a family, discuss different emergency what-if scenarios, ways to communicate, gathering places if you are separated, and how you will react in the situation.
- If you live in a relatively safe neighborhood, it would be a good idea to get to know your neighbors. If you don’t have a way of getting home when a disaster happens, but your neighbors are nearby, they can stop by and check on the pets or get items if needed. Just having your neighbor’s contact info is all you need. It’s not necessary to discuss private details (such as where to find your hidden house key) unless something happens.
- Have a handwritten list detailing places to stay, in your town and also outside of town, that will accommodate your pets. Emergency shelters do not always allow pets. Hand-write the address and phone numbers in case cell phone coverage is not reliable when the disaster strikes.
Advanced planning will ensure that when a disaster strikes, you will have that much more of a chance of making it out OK. For more tips on disaster planning with pets, check out my blog post on “Natural Disaster Preparedness Month: Are You Prepared?”
Have A Good First Aid Kit
Every family should have a well-stocked first-aid kit, not only for themselves but also for the pets. Pack the first aid kit with items such as bandaging supplies, items for wound care, burn care, gloves, muzzles for each one of your pets, and much more. Even if your pets have the sweetest temperament in the world, when an emergency strikes or when they are in pain, they are going to be afraid and unpredictable. For more ideas on your first aid kits, check out my blog post on “Pet First Aid Kits: What Goes in Them?” for tips on assembling a first aid kit for your pets.
Have a “Bug Out” Bag Ready for the Family
Every family should have a bag packed and ready in case they need to evacuate the area quickly. If you need to leave and only have minutes to spare, this bag is what you will grab.
- Examples of items that should go in this bag include; a change of clothing, medications for you and your pet, enough food and drinking water to last 3-7 days, a first aid kit, comfortable bedding , items to keep you and the pets warm (or cold), and anything else you find necessary. Folks might argue that assembling this bag is a waste of money. You are not wasting money if you set yourself a reminder to go through the items that have expiration dates regularly and switch them out before they expire. I have a reminder set for whenever I have refilled a medication, I go to the bag and put the new medicines in the bag and use the “old” prescription that was in the bag.
- There should be several variations of “Bug Out” bags around for multiple locations. Examples are having one for your house and one for your vehicle so they are accessible to you no matter where you are when a disaster strikes. Your bag for your car doesn’t need to be as large as your bag at home, but it still should contain enough supplies to help you while you get to a safe area.
- For a storage idea, my pet’s “bug out bag” is assembled in their carriers. I have placed food, water, medications, leashes, toys, etc. right in their carriers, that way if I need to go suddenly, I can quickly grab my bug out bag, the pets, and their carriers.
- Check out my blog post titled “Pet Preparedness 101” for more ideas on what to pack in the “Bug Out Bag.”
Being financially prepared
We are always advised to be economically ready for situations. If a natural disaster were to happen, how would you have access to money, if needed? Likely the bank ATM’s will not be able to keep up with the demand of folks needing to access their money, or they may not have power.
- It is a good idea to keep a stash of cash available in case you may not have access to withdraw money for a few days.
- When considering how much money to set aside, think about how much you may need to purchase gas or food, or even pay for a hotel for a few days.
- Saving up a little bit of money for these types of situations is essential. It doesn’t need to be thousands of dollars either, think about saving up just enough to get you through a few days.
- To prevent guests or kids from finding your stash of emergency money, store your cash in a safe along with your copies of relevant documents needed during an emergency.
Have All the Bases Covered
By having a disaster plan in place along with proper supplies ready to go, you and your pets will be in a much better situation if something happens. You will be able to shelter in place safely, or if evacuation is needed, you will have your supplies and pets packed and ready to go. When evacuations are ordered, many people are reluctant to leave because they don’t want to leave their pets behind, don’t know where to go, or don’t feel they have the proper items they need to take with them. Unfortunately, not evacuating when instructed to do so puts yourself, your family, and others in danger who then have to rescue you in rough conditions. Being prepared for “most likely” types of disasters for your area will help tremendously! Just remember to review your disaster plan regularly and check the items you have assembled, in case they need to be updated or changed out!