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 their 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 identification 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.
  • Shelters are 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, RC Pets, 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 pet’s favorite hiding places.
  • If you ever board your pet at a boarding kennel or with a petsitter, 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.

Emergency Kit for Animals

Put together at least one emergency kit with provisions for all family members, including pet(s). Consider keeping one at home (in case you are confined there) and one in the car in case you have to evacuate quickly. Kits should be easy to carry: use backpacks, duffle bags, or buckets with a lid and handle.

Your kit should contain at least the following items for your pets:

  • Water* (one week supply)
  • Dry and wet food (one week supply)*
  • Can opener
  • Prescription medications*
  • Plastic bowls for food and water, or a drip–bottle if your pet is used to drinking out of these instead of bowls
  • Plastic bags and paper towels
  • Current photo of pet(s) and any proof of ownership, as well as vaccination record (current vaccinations will be required by most boarding facilities)
  • Plastic container (litterbox) and kitty litter
  • Muzzle
  • Temporary identification tags and extra collars/harnesses
  • Pet comfort items: blankets, towels, toys, treats
  • Heat source for birds or reptiles
  • Your list of important phone numbers

In addition to food and water, don’t forget:

  • Flashlights
  • Batteries*
  • Solar or battery powered radio

*Use up and replace on a regular basis so they stay fresh