Most families know that having their physical needs met is important. Having an emergency supply of food, water, medication, and clothing ready to go can make it easier for you to evacuate or shelter in place if needed for a prolonged period of time. But are you ready to help all of your family members in the event of an emergency?
Animals also need to be protected when emergency situations arise. Indoor pets, including cats, dogs, and even exotic pets such as snakes or chinchillas, will have needs that must be addressed. Outdoor animals, including chickens, goats, and sheep, must also be as safe as possible, even though it is often impossible to evacuate them if trouble arises.
Here are some things to consider while you and your family are making preparations before a storm or emergency arises:
- Identify where indoor pets would go in the event that you have to evacuate. Are there emergency shelters that will accept you and your pet? What kinds of pets? For any animals that must be left at home, how will they get food and water if you are not able to come back for many days? Have extra dry animal food on hand to make sure that your pets will have adequate food if needed.
- Have up-to-date photos, vaccination paperwork, and microchip information for all of your animals in your evacuation bags. Make multiple copies to have in several locations, if possible. Have collars with your name and cell phone number on your pets, in case you are separated.
- If you have exotic pets such as lizards, snakes, birds,or other creatures that have special heat or feeding requirements, try to make plans ahead of time for either moving them to a safer location or meeting their needs to the best of your ability if you are away.
- Many pets now require daily medications to remain healthy. Talk to your veterinarian to obtain an emergency supply of essential medications that you may need to take with you if you evacuate. Check the expiration date of medications as well to make sure they are usable in an emergency.
- Outdoor animals also need to be made as safe as possible, although it may be impossible to evacuate them. Prepare for storms by making sure shelter, extra water, and food sources are available to the extent possible. Remove all debris that may fly around in high winds from fields, paddocks, and surrounding areas. Take down standing dead trees in fields and animal areas so they are not brought down onto barns or animals in high winds.
- If possible, remove animals who are housed in flood prone areas to higher ground before storms strike. If you have friends or neighbors who can shelter your animals on higher ground, move the animals well ahead of the storm. Animals can often feel weather changes coming and can be more difficult to work with as storms get closer.
- Some outdoor animals, such as chickens and other birds, can benefit from being locked into a protective shelter that provides adequate room for a few days. Other animals benefit from being allowed to access the outdoors, even in a storm, in order to avoid hurting themselves when panicked. Talk to your local veterinarian or animal health expert for their recommendations for your specific animals and housing situation.
Plan ahead to stay safe!