Emergency Evacuation Plans for Pets

Feb 27, 2020   Tracey Aston   Pet Safety

Emergencies come out of nowhere and while no one ever thinks they will happen to them, unfortunately, there is always the risk for all of us. Emergencies come in all forms from winter weather, dangerous storms, flooding, lighting hitting homes or winds sending trees into homes, and fires. No one is ever fully ready to be displaced in the case of an emergency, and obviously, they come on quickly. The best way to prepare for an emergency is to have a plan of action and practice it frequently.

The first step of being prepared for an emergency is to have a pet first aid kit and emergency evacuation kit easily accessible to you, as seconds count in these situations! For more on what should be in your pet's first aid kit, visit our blog article Pet First Aid and Emergency Procedures.  

Your emergency kit should have copies of your pet's license, up-to-date vaccination records and veterinary medical history, a week's worth of food, extra food and water bowls, an extra collar with name tags and extra leash, a recent picture of your pet with description in the event you get separated, disposable litter trays, disposable waste bags, litter or sand, a travel sized bottle of dish liquid for cleaning bowls and pans after each use a traveling bag, small dog and cat carrier, blankets and toys. Have a list of phone numbers for pet friendly hotels and motels and local kennels readily available or stored electronically.  

While that's not always possible, prevention can go a long way in stopping emergencies before they happen. For the safety of all family members, have smoke and CO2 detectors on all floors and test the batteries regularly. Extinguish all candles and incense when leaving a pet unattended. All fireplaces should have a fireplace cover and should never be left unattended. All stoves should have burner covers so a pet can't accidently turn on a knob by jumping up. Turn off all space heaters when leaving the home. The newer space heaters now come with a safety feature that it will turn off in the even it is knocked over, it you must have a space heater, invest in the newer ones with this safety feature but still do not leave pets unattended – safety features can fail and it's not worth the risk. Pet Inside fire safety decals are easily affordable and should be placed clearly in all windows.

All families should be practicing fire escape drills in the case of a fire but make sure you're remembering to include your furry family members too! When practicing escape drills, practice with the alarm going off to get your pet prepared for the sounds they make and to reduce the chance of the alarm scaring your pet and causing them to dash or hide. Plan ahead on which family member will be in charge of the pets – ideally 1 person per pet, but if this is not possible, modify for your family's needs. Have several escape routes planned in advance in case one is blocked and be sure all family members practice these drills regularly.  Pet parents of large breed dogs with at least a 2 story home should consider investing in a fire escape sling for large dogs. All families should have a fire ladder in case the stairwell is blocked and smaller dogs and cats or crated pets can be easily carried down with the family member in charge. However, a large dog will require a means to be lowered from a second story window.  

Something that will come up during a real emergency and may not during a drill is your pet becoming frightened and hiding so know all the places your pet likes to hide. Where does your dog hide during a thunderstorm? Does your cat have a habit of hiding under the bed when the doorbell rings? Animals are creatures of habit and will most likely head to a place they feel is safe.

If you have to leave your home for any period of time, know where your pets are going! Have an updated list of all hotels, motels, and short term stay apartments that accept pets. If your plan is to go to a friend or family's home, make sure you know where your pet can sleep, relieve themselves and eat. Pets are most often lost from homes that aren't their own. If they are used to a fenced yard and the place you are staying doesn't have one, make sure their leash is attached before opening the door.  If all else fails, have a vet approved boarding or kennel on hand that could house your pet until a more stable environment is found.

Pets are family and as such, should be part of every family's emergency evacuation plan.

For those who have experienced emergency situations, the Red Cross and CART provide care packages for displaced pets.  CART also supplies pet oxygen masks to first responders and fire departments. If you would like to donate to their emergency kits or oxygen masks, please visit http://www.westmorelandcart.com/pet-oxygen-mask-sponsorship.html

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