Between Hurricane Florence bearing down on Virginia and September being National Disaster Preparedness Month, there is no better time to finalize your emergency plan. If creating an emergency plan for your family or your pets has never crossed your mind, don’t panic! We’ll walk you through creating the ideal disaster plan, tailored to fit the needs of your family.
- Sign up for emergency alerts for your county through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management website. Follow this link and scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up for local alerts: vaemergency.gov/prepare-recover/threats/. Receiving updates as soon as they occur is crucial to staying ahead of a disaster. Evacuation notices can change at a moment’s notice, so be sure to check your email or text messages frequently during an emergency situation for instruction.
- Create an emergency plan. An emergency plan can be changed to suit the disaster at hand, but the core components will not change. Plan for your family, indoor pets, or large animals who live outside. Be sure that each member of your household understands his or her role in an emergency.
- Decide where to go. Whether you must evacuate your home or can stay and weather the storm, finding a safe area for your family will alleviate a lot of stress in an emergency situation. Look for pet-friendly hotels along your evacuation route. Many public shelters only allow service animals and will not accept pets. Keep an updated list of boarding facilities, animal shelters and rescues, veterinary hospitals, and other places that may safely house your furry companions.
- Verify contact information. Be sure that your pet’s veterinarian and microchip company have your current address and phone number, and add an emergency contact outside your immediate area. Having your pet microchipped with up-to-date information is the single best way to be reunited with a lost pet. Double check that your pet has appropriate identification and tags on her collar, even for animals that don’t usually wear collars. Providing multiple forms of identification will help if you and your pet become separated.
- Start a buddy system. Partner up with a trusted friend, relative, or neighbor who is comfortable taking care of your pets. Exchange house keys and emergency plans. This will allow someone to look out for your pet if evacuation lines close before you make it back home.
- Take current photos of you with your pet. Recent photos of you and your pet together prove ownership and can be used to create flyers if your pet goes missing.
- Apply a “Pets Inside” sticker to the window of your home. This information is helpful to rescue teams working diligently to save as many lives as they can. If there’s time as you leave, write across the sticker that you have evacuated with your pet.
- Assemble a disaster kit. Each pet in your household should have her own disaster kit in an easy-to-carry and durable container. The kit should contain:
- Medications, including heartworm, flea, and tick prevention
- Food (a one-week supply, and include a can opener if necessary)
- Water (a one-week supply)
- Pet first aid supplies
- Carrier/crate/collar/harness/leash to keep your pet safely confined
- Food and water bowls, toys, treats, and bedding
- Identification, such as current photos, microchip information, and vaccine records
- Litter and litter boxes
- Cleaning supplies
Be sure to rotate out perishable items, such as food and medications.
- Stay calm. Being calm will help comfort your family and pets in times of stress. Pets can sense our emotions, and when we’re scared or stressed, a pet can panic as well. Stay cool and collected to facilitate a smooth emergency plan.
- Remember that your pet is safest with you. Having your pet by your side will help keep her calm. In the event of an evacuation, public shelters may only accept service animals, but do not leave your pet behind. You can prevent your pet from injuring herself in a fear-stricken state or being trapped inside the house while a disaster occurs by formulating and executing a solid disaster plan. By planning ahead and knowing the pet-friendly options, you’ll know where your family and pets can go during an emergency.
Not sure how to best keep your furry friends safe as Hurricane Florence approaches? Call us at 757-564-9815 for help.