Photo submitted by Jennifer Berry of Gary and Mugsy Berry
September is FEMA's National Preparedness Month and is a good time to revisit your family’s evacuation plan in the event of a wildfire. Being prepared before a wildfire disaster can help keep everyone in your family safer. One family member often overlooked is the family pet.
Taking simple steps to prepare pets for an evacuation can make it easier for everyone else. Some steps that you can take to make the process easier for your pet are:
- Have a crate ready for your pet that is the right size for your pet. Practice with your pet getting into the crate so that it is easy and familiar for your pet. It will make it easier for you both.
- Make sure that you have organized important documentation for your pet including, Special needs documentation (a list of the pet’s current physical disabilities or illnesses, emotional or behavioral problems and how to deal with them, special feeding schedule requirements, dietary restrictions, allergies), copies of ownership records (adoption records, registration paperwork, pet health insurance policies, municipal or county license tags and paperwork), Microchip paperwork.
- Create a kit for your pet in a plastic tub and use a sharpie to update the contents inside. (some items to include are a 3-7 day supply of pet food, a can opener and spoon if your pet is eating canned food, water and food dishes, clean water for 3-7days, collar or harness, leash, cat litter tray and scoop, bedding, toys, dog waste bags, first aid kit, and cleaning supplies including spray disinfectant and paper towel). Keep the kit where it will not get too hot or too cold.
- List of important pet related phone numbers because internet access may difficult. Include veterinarian, local animal control agency, animal shelter/boarding facility, list of nearby pet friendly hotels, and even friends that may be willing to temporarily take your pet while you are away from home (this may be neighbors who are part of a buddy system network where neighbors help evacuate each other’s pets).
Focusing on your pet can help remind you what your two-legged family members will need as well, and can help make emergency planning engaging for children. Don’t forget to check out NFPA’s TakeAction website for some great resources available to help you prepare your pet in the event of an evacuation for a wildfire, including a downloadable pet evacuation checklist.