Disaster can strike when we least expect it. September is dedicated to planning for unexpected disasters. Depending on where you live, disasters can take many different forms. Here in the Red River Valley blizzards, flooding, and thunderstorms are most common. Fires and explosions are also possible but less likely.
It is important to have a plan in place to keep your family and pets safe. The ASPCA and CDC recommend making a disaster/emergency kit for your household as well as for your pets. There is a checklist available online on the CDC website. Highlights from the list include contact information, veterinary records/documents, photos of your pet, and two weeks worth of food, water and chronic medications.
A carrier, leash, or harness to control your pet is also important. Make sure you rotate food and medications in the kit every two months so nothing goes stale or out of date. Having your pet microchipped and keeping your contact information up to date can help if you are ever separated and a collar comes off. Making sure your pet is used to traveling in a vehicle can be a useful skill so that in times of a stressful evacuation they at least know what to expect.
When having to evacuate an area for a disaster, do everything you can not to leave your pets behind. If it is not safe for you to stay, chances are it is not safe for your pets either. Have a plan in place for where you will go and make sure you are able to bring your pets with you. Not all emergency shelters will house animals unless certified as service animals, so plan accordingly.
When faced with an emergency that doesn’t require you to leave but instead just take shelter where you are, make sure you pick an area that is able to be closed off easily. This area should usually be an interior room without windows and can be cleaned. Depending on the type of disaster you are facing those requirements may change.
Remember that disasters can bring aftermath with them too in many forms. You could be faced with loss of power or fresh water for an undetermined amount of time even after the initial disaster is over. Having a supply of safe drinking water available is helpful in those situations.
Keeping yourself and your pet healthy can be difficult in a stressful situation. Make sure you wash your hands after handling your pet, food, or water to prevent contamination. Avoid stagnant water and don’t let your pet play or drink in it either. Many different parasites can live in those conditions. Also be aware that many animals behave differently when faced with stress or unknown environments and may lash out even at people they know and love. Avoid any wildlife that could potentially transmit diseases as well.
Having a plan in place can help keep everyone safe when disaster strikes. It can help to practice the plan as well, so that you can see what may or may not work for your individual situation. Every disaster is different but being prepared is the biggest hurdle to cover.
Article written by: Heather