No matter where you live, industry insiders recommend having a disaster plan, one that includes both human and animal family members.
"What’s good for us is good for our pets," said Kris Kiser, president of the TurfMutt Foundation and president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). "My dog is a member of the family, so we have a plan for keeping her safe in the event of an emergency, and we encourage all pet parents to do the same."
Here are six tips from the TurfMutt Foundation to include pet safety when mapping out a disaster preparedness plan:
- Have pets microchipped. "In the event of an emergency—natural or otherwise—you want to ensure your pet can get back to you if you’re separated," TurfMutt Foundation officials said. "Collars and ID tags, though important, can break or detach. Microchips are more fool-proof since they’re inserted under your pet’s skin."
- Bring pets inside at the first sign of danger. "Disasters can be disorienting for pets, and they could run away or hurt themselves reacting to loud noises and strange changes to their landscape," officials said. "Also, rain, flying debris and high winds pose a danger."
- If you have to leave, keep pets with you. "Leaving your pets behind during a natural disaster is never a good idea because they could escape or become exposed to a number of life-threatening hazards," officials said. "Keep them on a leash or in a pet carrier so they don’t escape, even if you are in a ‘familiar’ neighborhood."
- Determine where you’ll go. "You need a Plan B if you are advised by government officials to leave your home. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staying with family or friends may not be an option," officials explained. "Not all emergency shelters will accept pets and physical distancing guidelines may reduce capacity in public shelters. Make a plan and develop a list of pet-friendly hotels open for business and outside your immediate area that you might evacuate to."
- Create a pet-friendly resource list. "Research a list of veterinarians in the area should your pet need medical care. Your regular vet may have some recommendations," officials noted. "Also, figure out which boarding facilities are nearby in case you need to separate from your pet for a time."
- Pack an emergency bag. "Pack emergency provisions for pets well in advance of a catastrophe so you can evacuate your home quickly if needed," officials recommended. "Choose an easy-to-carry bag, label it and keep it where everyone in the family can find it quickly. The bag should include a pet first aid kit; enough food and bottled water for a week (rotate this every couple of months to keep it from going bad); medications (check periodically to ensure medicines in your emergency bag don’t expire); cleanup supplies; food and water dishes; bags (or litter for cats) for collecting waste; an extra collar and leash; photocopies of medical records; towels; recent photos of your pets; and a favorite toy or chewy for comfort. It’s also a good idea to have a sturdy carrier or crate for each pet."
"By keeping in mind these ideas, pet preparedness plans can be put into action ahead of a storm instead of spending valuable time trying to determine what needs to be done to best protect pets," officials said.
The TurfMutt Foundation is an environment education and stewardship program based in Alexandria, Va. OPEI is an international trade association representing manufacturers and suppliers of power equipment, small engines and batter power, utility and personal transport vehicles, and golf cars.