A little preparation goes a long way towards reducing the impact of a disaster or emergency on you and your loved ones. It is especially important for pet owners to prepare since there are fewer public resources available to help animals following a disaster. Remember, you are responsible for your pets’ safety and well being they depend on you.
The term “emergency” or “disaster” can encompass anything from a fire in your home to a severe snowstorm to a region wide chemical hazard. While it is important to be aware of the most likely disasters in your area, a general plan is best.
An Ounce of Prevention
Look around your home and determine what you can do to prevent disasters from happening in the first place:
*Secure bookshelves to the wall
*Keep a fire extinguisher in your home, and make sure it is up to date
*Test smoke detectors on a regular basis
*Install carbon monoxide detectors
*If you have a backup power source, be sure it is in good working order
*Any hazardous chemicals should be stored as safely as possible, away from people and animals
*Keep in mind that home fires are one of the most common emergencies, and most of them start in the kitchen
Make a Plan
The next step is to develop a family emergency plan for all human and animal members of the household. It is vital to be prepared to take all your animals with you if you are forced to leave your house. Leaving them behind reduces your chance of survival and is simply another disaster waiting to happen.
*Choose a friend or relative out of state as your emergency contact. (Following a regional disaster, it is often easier to phone out of state than in state). Be sure everyone in the family has their phone number and knows to check in with them as soon as possible following an emergency if you are separated. Consider putting their number on your pet’s I.D. tag
*Red Cross Shelters do not allow animals, so plan to stay with friends or family members with your pets if you must evacuate. If you can’t do this, decide where you will go. Remember that your pet is better off staying with you.
*Calcasieu Parish Animal Services is often at capacity and focuses on ownerless animals, so will be unable to temporarily house your pet following a disaster.
*Make a list of the following important phone numbers: your veterinarian: Calcasieu Parish Animal Services and Adoption Center , several hotels/motels within 50 miles of your home, boarding kennels, your out of state contact, and animal poison control. Program them into your cell phone and keep a printed version in your emergency kit.
*Put together an emergency kit with supplies for all humans and animals in the home.
*Set up a “buddy system” with a friend, family member, or neighbor to help your pet if you are away when a disaster strikes. Make sure they have keys to your house, instructions on where to go, and are familiar with your animals.
*Learn your pets’ favorite hiding places.
*If you ever board your pet at a boarding kennel or with a pet sitter. be sure you know their emergency response plans.
*Decide where your family will meet if you get separated.
*Have a transport cage/carrier ready for each pet. Keep them as accessible as possible, and train your pets to be comfortable in them.