National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day

By Lynn Stacy-Smith 

Each May the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sets one day as National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day.  All pet owners should include their pets in their own personal or family disaster preparedness plan for both basic household emergencies as well as region specific emergencies like hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, blizzards and other situations that may involve either being unable to leave your home or the opposite, being forced to evacuate your home.

photo credit: The National Guard via photopin cc - National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day
photo credit: The National Guard via photopin cc

Here are some helpful links to the FEMA sites that are specific to pet owners and animal disaster preparedness:

FEMA Pet Preparedness Video

Prepare For Emergencies Now: Information For Pet Owners

Printer Friendly Pet Owners Fact Sheet

In addition to these tips, Charles Smith, pet owner and a Professional Firefighter and Paramedic, recommends one gallon of water per pet per day and a seventy-two hour emergency bag that contains all of the items you need to stay in your home or leave your home depending on the particular emergency. He suggests vet records, a photo of you and your dog together, copies of their microchip paperwork, a dust mask for dogs and protective dog boots in case they need to walk over hazardous terrain. Make sure your first aid kit includes aspirin, Benadryl or a generic version of that medication and non-adherent bandages. Also use a harness instead of a regular collar in emergency situations because a scared dog can easily slip out of a plain collar. Also keep extra food on hand in the event of a shipping delay due to bad weather in your own or other parts of the country. Just remember to rotate through the bags so that it stays fresh.

photo credit: cindy47452 via photopin cc - animal disaster preparedness
photo credit: cindy47452 via photopin cc

If you are able, remember to put a plastic travel crate or wire collapsible crate in your vehicle to use at your evacuation destination. Most plastic travel crates come apart  if space is an issue or you can use it to store your supplies if your dog is not riding in the crate. Keep a life vest on hand if you live in a flood prone area, a winter jacket if dealing with winter hazards like blizzards or extreme cold, and something to carry a large dog should he or she become injured and unable to walk.