The water rushed down the street and the sidewalk. The third round of thunderstorms rolled through town, overflowing the neighborhood’s draining system and clogging areas with debris. Sidewalks formed mud piles and car tires stopped rocks and branches. I observed all this from my front porch as hail cascaded from the sky and rain drenched the community.
Every year floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, snowstorms and other natural disasters hit towns and cities in the U.S. and around the world. Hurricane season officially begins June 1 yet over the Memorial Day weekend communities along the Gulf Coast prepared for a significant tropical storm – about the same time I watched a potential flash flood hit my community in Wyoming. As I stood on my front porch Sunday evening watching water rush like a raging river, I pondered if my family and I, with an entourage of four pets, could safely leave our home if needed.
We all need to be prepared to evacuate our homes in times of emergency. Here are five tips to handling a natural disaster situation:
Creating, and having on hand, a disaster preparedness kit can help a crisis run a bit smoother. Both the federal government’s Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the ASPCA offer more tips on caring for your pets during an emergency. Visit these websites for further information and to help you create a disaster plan and an emergency preparedness kit.
Here is a great infographic from www.poochingaround.co.uk. It's been created to make owners aware of what they should pack in a bag for their dogs just in case of an emergency situation like a natural disaster. Take a look at the list of items and let us know if you agree with what's on the list and if there is anything else you would include?
Although June is drawing to a close, this week is still a great time to remind pet parents that the month highlights the importance of being prepared for an emergency, not only for you and your human family, but also for your four-footed family members. June is Pet Preparedness Month, and whether the disaster is flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, or other natural calamities, being prepared is critical.
The federal government provides a website regarding preparedness and pets. Visit https://www.ready.gov/animals to learn about making an emergency plan for you and your pet, creating a shelter for your animal, and caring for your furry friend after an emergency.
The primary tip to get you started with emergency pet preparedness is to create a bag or pack (known as an “evac-pack"). Here are some of the things you should have in that “go-bag:”
The ASPCA provides further information on evac-packs as well as gives more disaster preparedness information. Visit their website at https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness to learn more.
Additionally, AKC Reunite offers opportunity for county emergency management officials to obtain trailers to help pets during a disaster. Sadly, many states do not have a disaster relief trailer yet, especially those west of the Mississippi. Last year, my community received one of these important vehicles, the first and only one in the state; read the story here: http://casperjournal.com/community/article_02aad1db-1ae5-53d5-a5b8-b0822782a248.html
As rain falls, tornadoes and hurricanes break out, and wildland fires begin to crop up, let all of us who are pet parents think of our furry children as we plan for emergency situations.
August has arrived. We are still in the heat of summer when storms and wildfires explode in an instant. Floods, fires, tornadoes – all can spell disaster for people and pets. During Hurricane Katrina many pet owners stayed behind because Red Cross shelters don’t allow animals, and when people stayed, both humans and animals died. Although some organizations have since helped communities more actively prepare for handling pets during a natural disaster (see the American Kennel Club Reunite Mobile Trailer Disaster Program at http://www.akcreunite.org/relief/), pet owners should also prepare by creating an Evac-Pack.
An Evac-Pack is like a go-bag for your pet, helping you as a pet owner be prepared to care for your pet during a natural disaster. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), here are things pet parents should include in their pet’s Evac-Pack:
The ASPCA has a mobile app that can be helpful, showing pet owners what to do in case of a natural disaster/emergency. The app also allows pet parents to store vital medical records and provides information on making life-saving decisions during natural disasters. This free app can help pet owners in several other ways such as:
Learn more about preparing for a natural disaster if you have pets, including special considerations for livestock, birds, and reptiles, at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness. Other helpful websites include: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/animal_rescue/tips/pet_disaster_preparedness_kit.html?credit=web_id354243830, http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pet_first_aid_kit.html and http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m3640126_PetSafety.pdf.
Remember that Red Cross shelters don’t allow pets (they do allow service animals); therefore, plan ahead where your pet will stay if you have to be away from your home for an extended period of time. Pet-friendly hotels, boarding and veterinary clinics, and sometimes local animal shelters and pet rescue organizations can be helpful.
Plan ahead before an emergency strikes with where to go and what to take – you and your pet will ride the wave of a natural disaster better for that preparation.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.