Disaster Preparedness

Disaster Preparedness
By Dr. Nancy Rhodes

Plan and Prepare
- Emergencies come in many forms and we don't get much advanced warning.  We all remember seeing pictures of dogs trapped on roof tops in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  In light of the more recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I have had a few clients ask me what to do with their pets in an emergency.  Now, I don't expect a wall of water to advance along east central Illinois, but we do technically live on a fault line and we have already had some severe spring storms with high winds and tornado warnings.  We also brave some long, cold winter days with blizzards and ice.  Power outages, minor flooding, fire or even gas leaks can keep us from our homes for extended periods of time.  It's not in my nature to be full of doom and gloom, but with a little preparation and planning we help to avoid some of the stress and heartache that comes when disaster strikes.  I have compiled recommendations and lists of how to prepare ourselves to help our pets in the event of an emergency or evacuation with the help of several websites referenced at the end.  Stay safe and call us if you have any questions!

Rescue Alert sticker - These are available through the ASPCA and should be posted near the entrance(s) of your home.  Include types and number of pets in the house, your veterinarian's name and phone number and location of your emergency kit.  If pets are being evacuated with you, write evacuated on the sticker!  If you live in an apartment make sure your pets are on record with the management.

Identification - Collars with identification and rabies tags should be worn at all times.  Tags should include: name, address, your home and cell phone numbers and an alternate out of state contact number.  A microchip, implanted under the skin by your veterinarian AND registered with the chip company, is the best way to permanently identify and be reunited with your pet.  Label your pet carriers with this information too!

Safe location - If it is safe to weather the storm in you home, bring your pet inside!  Determine, in advance, the safest areas to hunker down.  These should be; clear of window, debris, small hiding spots, and easy to clean.  Make sure everyone in the family knows where to go and who is responsible for getting the pets there.  Practice getting there with the pets during a calm time.  Having easy access to leashes, harnesses, and carriers will save time.  Train pets to go down stairs (high rise dwellers) and be comfortable getting into a pet carrier.  Pets ;may need to be crated for their safety and comfort.  Keep your emergency kit close to this location!
 If you are advised to leave your home, TAKE YOUR PETS WITH YOU!!!!!  You can never be too careful.  Leave early and take your emergency kit.  Predetermine a meeting spot for the entire family and identify who will be responsible for the pets.  Identify boarding kennels and pet friendly hotels (www.petswelcome.com) in your area (60 mile radius).  Keep a list of these in your ER kit and near your phone/in your contacts list.  Ask a friend or relative outside your immediate area if they would be willing to accommodate your furry family members if needed.

Alternate contact - What happens if your aren't home??  Find a willing and trusted neighbor that will tend to your animals if you can't be there.  This really should be someone who is comfortable with your types of pets.  On any other day it might be fun to watch your 'dog-person' friend get your cat in the carrier, but in an emergency this could be a waste of precious time.  They should have a key to your house and know where your emergency/evacuation kit is kept and where all the favorite hiding places are.  Leashes, muzzles, gloves, and carriers should be quickly and easily accessible.  Make sure you have a list of contact numbers for you, a relative, and your veterinarian in your ER kit.

Emergency kit - This should be a waterproof container, easily transportable, and stored in a cool dry place.  Here's what should be in it or near it! 

                      1.  A waterproof bag/envelope with:
                                     a. Contact information (you, a relative, designated neighbor)
                                     b. List of your pets (species, breed, age, sex,  color
                                              and distinguishing markings)
                                     c. Medical info (veterinarian name and number, microchip
                                              info, vaccine dates, medical conditions, medications
                                              including drug name, dosage and frequency) and
                                              feeding instructions
                                     d. Current photographs of the pets and you with your pets
                                     e. List of local pet-friendly hotels, animal control, humane
                                              society, boarding facilities, and Red Cross
                       2.  Emergency cash
                       3.  3-7 day supply of canned or dry food and water for EACH pet
                                    (rotate every 2 months)
                       4.  Dishes, a spoon, and a can opener
                       5.  Litter, disposable litter pans, and a scoop
                       6.  One kennel or carrier (LABELED) for each pet, leashes, and
                                     muzzles/gloves if needed.  Pets that normally get along fine 
                                     may need to be kept separate under stressful conditions.
                                     A pillowcase will work for a cat in a crisis.
                       7.  2 week supply of medications (replace every 2 months)
                       8.  Paper towels, liquid soap, plastic garbage bags
                       9.  Familiar comfort items: toys, treats, blankets, bedding
                     10. Flashlight, batteries, radio
                     11. First aid kit and guidebook

First Aid Kit - Many of the items you would keep in your own first aid kit should be
there for the pets too.  With tornadoes and damaging storms being our major threat in this area, wounds and lacerations are going to be the more common injuries.  Make sure you have extra wound cleaning and bandaging supplies.  Here's another list!

                        1.  Antibiotic ointment
                        2.  Bandage scissors
                        3.  Cotton and elastic bandage rolls, bandage tape, self-adhesive
                                     elastic tape ('vet wrap'), gauze and telfa (non-stick) pads
                        4.  Betadine or chlorhexidine cleanser
                        5.  Sterile saline eye flush
                        6.  Gloves
                        7.  Isopropyl alcohol
                        8.  Towels and washcloths
                        9.  Tweezers, Q-tips