Many of us have an idea of what we would do in an emergency type situation or at least a general plan in place of how we would react. Fewer of us even take it a step further and have a bug-out-bag packed and in an easily accessible place in our home in case you need to suddenly leave your house, for whatever emergency reason. But, how many of us have thought of our pets? For those of us that DO have a bug-out-bag packed and ready in the case of an emergency- do you have supplies for your pets in there as well?
You wouldn’t think to leave your children behind in an emergency situation, so why would you leave your pets? A lot of us actually view our pets as our furry “children”, and those of us with children have maybe even experienced at some point in their child-raising where they were more fond of their pets at a moment in time than their children! Let’s talk about making sure you have a bug-out bag packed and ready when needed, for ALL members of your family.
What IS a “Bug-Out Bag?”
First of all, some may be wondering, what exactly IS a bug-out bag? The term is used loosely and can mean different things to different people. Some even call it a “go-bag” rather than a bug-out bag, but it all focuses on the same thing- a bag, box, or tote full of items and personal belongings packed and ready to go when you need to leave, NOW. Whether it be a natural disaster that just happened, bad weather coming your way and you have a very short time to evacuate, or lord forbid you are suddenly put in a dangerous situation in your own home, you have a bag packed full of belongings that you can quickly grab and leave to find a safer place.
How Much Should I Pack in This Bag?
At one point it was suggested that a person should have everything they could possibly need to survive in a 72 hour period of time right in that bag. Food, medications needed, clothing, survival tools, everything you can possibly think you need that you cannot live without. With natural disasters happening over the past few years, and even some folks a little worried about the political events happening lately in the world, folks are now suggesting you should really plan on living out of that bug-out bag for a weeks’ time. So, back to throwing pets in the equation. What are some things to consider packing for pets? Let’s brainstorm a list of some items we should put in our bug-out bags:
What Items Should Go in A Bug-Out-Bag?
- Enough food and water for your pet for one week- if you feed canned food for your pets, don’t forget a can opener, serving utensils and a lid.
- Portable food and water bowls for each of your pets.
- Any medications your pet takes.
- Blankets or bedding to make your pets comfortable and protect them from any elements. A tarp or car bench seat cover would also help for keeping areas clean if your pets get dirty.
- If you have small pets that have a hard time regulating their body temperature, make sure to have items to help keep them warm or cool, such as a dog sweatshirt and booties to put on or a cooling pad or portable fan to put in their kennel.
- Kennel or some kind of confinement for your pets. If you are evacuating to a hotel or shelter area, public safety is going to be the highest concern and authorities are not going to be fond of loose or unconfined pets.
- For dogs- extra collar and leash with identification, plus something such as a rope to secure them to something or tie them out if needed.
- Supplies for cleaning up after your pet’s potty needs. Prepare to have to pick up after them. This means a litter box and litter/scoop/poo bags for kitties. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to get some paper towels and puppy training pads to help with messes, as well as pet-wipes. Dogs are known to get stress-related diarrhea when experiencing stressful situations.
- A basic pet first aid kit, in case things get tricky while your leaving. (Check out my blog post on what goes in a pet first aid kit and how it’s different from a human first aid kit!)
- A favorite toy for each of your pets, something familiar and soothing for them. You should have both an interactive toy or you to play together and relieve stress, as well as a chew toy, Kong toy, or whatever it is that can keep them busy when your not around.
- Think about potential environmental situations you could be facing where you live. Do you live in a place that gets hurricanes? Tornadoes? Active flooding? Customize any extra survival items specific to natural disasters that could happen in your area. Also, consider your climate, are you more likely to be hurrying out in the cold, or blistering heat? Does it rain or snow frequently where you live?
- Anything else you feel that is unique for your pet, that they cannot live without for a week.
Cha-Ching! How Much Is This Going to Cost Me?
There is a lot of stuff that goes into a bug-out bag for your pets, and I’m sure you are seeing dollar signs when looking at this list! You can assemble this piece by piece, and you can find cost-effective ways to get some of these items. There are many online stores that already sell pet emergency kits, you could always start with one of those and customize it for your pet’s needs! Dollar stores are a great place to find cost-effective pet supplies, even some craft stores have pet supplies as novelty items. Sporting type stores have great portable pet items for camping, there is no reason why these items wouldn’t work for your bug out bag too! The holiday season is a great time to be looking for some of these items as pet supplies are usually always on sale during the holidays, they make great gifts.
You are already purchasing your pet’s food and medication, so your not “wasting” these items, set a reminder on your calendar to rotate out the food every 6 months so the dry food doesn’t get too “stale” and the wet food doesn’t risk passing expiration dates. With medications, set a reminder that every few months when you get a medication refill for your pet, swap out a weeks’ worth of new medication and use the “old” medication this week for your pet.
Think; Grab and Go!
Most importantly, make sure your bug-out bag contents are stored in an easy enough way to just grab it and go. Don’t pack your bag so heavy that you cannot easily run with it or drag it behind you! My pets’ items are stored in a dog kennel since I have several dogs. That way I can easily grab the kennel and put it in my car if I need to leave in a hurry. Every pet families’ needs are unique, so take this basic list and run with it when brainstorming what needs to go in your kit!