National Disaster Preparedness Month
With Hurricane Irma and Harvey wrecking havoc in the U.S., and in the Caribbean, there is no better time to remind everyone of the importance of National Disaster Preparedness Month, which takes place in September. After Hurricane Katrina, national attention was given to the importance of animal welfare and evacuation after many people refused to evacuate because they could not bring their pets. Passed in 2005, The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS) is an initiative that now requires states seeking Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance to accommodate pets and service animals in their plans for evacuating residents facing disasters.
While it is now easier to evacuate if required, pet parents still need to be prepared for anything. The first thing to do when preparing for a disaster is to put a sticker somewhere in the front of the home, which shows the kind of pet and how many there are in the home. Make sure to leave a vets name and number on the sticker, this will let rescuers know the information they need if they find a pet in the home. A pet also needs a safe haven, someplace where they can stay protected during a disaster. If a disaster takes place in an area where people will have to leave their home, pet parents should call ahead to find a hotel, humane society or emergency clinic that accommodates pets. Never assume that a pet will be ok until you return. The rule of thumb is if it isn’t safe for a person, it’s not safe for their pets! Pets who are left behind can escape through broken windows, and can then get lost and have to fend for theirselves, and can even die in the terrain and the weather.
In case a disaster strikes when a pet parent is not home, it is crucial for a pet parent to have made arrangements well in advance for a trusted friend or family member to come by their home, evacuate their pets and meet them at a specified location. Be sure that this person knows the pets and that they know them, and that the person also has a key to the home. This person should know where pets are likely to hide if they get scared, and where the pets disaster supply kit is located.
A pet disaster supply kit is essential during an emergency. Keeping the supply kit in a place where it is easy to grab is key, so if there is an emergency in a tornado prone area, keep the supply kit in the basement. If there is a disaster in a flood prone area, keep the supply kit in a high place. Depending on if a family needs to evacuate or not, a disaster kit should include the following: a list for each pet, crate or carrier for each pet, collars, leashes, pet first aid kit, veterinarian information and vaccination records, a three week supply of a pets medications, food and water, plastic bags, paper towels, cleaning supplies, sedatives for pets who frighten easily, can opener, food and water bowls, familiar toy and blankets, towels and grooming items, detailed instructions for animal care professionals and rescue workers, a copy of emergency numbers, a flashlight and batteries. Depending on the season, it might also be useful to pack dog booties, a life vest, a rain jacket or a winter jacket. Any kind of disaster is stressful for humans and pets, so packing a few toys and treats can distract a pet.
By being prepared, pet parents not only save precious time, but can also save the lives of their four legged family members.
NAPPS has developed a detailed disaster plan for pet parents to use in the event of an emergency or evacuation.