Monday, July 28, 2014

Pet Safety Month: Animals in Disasters: Part 2: During the Disaster

In honor of Pet Safety Month, here are some suggestions to help you weather an emergency with your pet.

Evacuate early. If a serious emergency is on its way, don't wait for a mandatory evacuation order. Leaving in a calm, controlled fashion is not only better for your pets, it is better for you, too, especially since many pets can be stressed by the smell of smoke, the sounds of high winds, or flashes of lightning. Some people who have waited until emergency officials evacuated them have been told they had to leave their pets behind.

Identify a safe area of your home where you and your family can stay together, if you must wait out a storm or other disaster at home. Make sure that the safe area is animal-friendly:
  • Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies - Frightened cats may try to hide in small spaces when they are fearful, and may become trapped in areas where you cannot reach them if you eventually end up needing to evacuate.
  • Move dangerous items - Any tools or toxic products that have been stored in your safe area should be relocated, in case there is a possibility of a leak or spill.
Be sure to close your windows and doors, stay inside, and follow the instructions from your local emergency management office.
  • Stock your emergency supplies in your "safe room" in advance - Have your pet's medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies, as well as a pet carrier or crate for each pet. Close off any open fireplaces, vents, pet doors, or similar openings in the house, with plastic sheeting and strong tape.
Listen to the radio periodically, and don't come out until you know it's safe.

Fresh water is particularly important. If power outages are a possibility, fill up bathtubs and sinks ahead of time to ensure an adequate supply of water.

If flooding is expected, make sure that your safe area is in the highest location in your home, or in a room that has access to counters or high shelves where your animals can take shelter. Your pets are closer to the ground and will be affected by high water sooner than a human.

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