As I watch the news this week with Hurricane Florence bearing down on the East Coast, I am reminded that September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. And that means planning with pets in mind. It actually started last week, and the theme is Disasters Happen. Prepare now. Learn how.
The first step is to imagine some likely disasters. Up here in North Texas, I think tornadoes, ice storms, power failures, localized flooding, and possible wildfires. There are many similarities to prepare, even though the causes may be different.
The next step is to figure out if you would shelter in place or leave. If you shelter in place, determine which room of your home would be safest. For tornadoes, ideally pick a room with no external windows, on the ground floor, maybe even a bathtub. I recommend having a leash for every dog and a carrier for each cat. If the power goes out, and the sirens wail, and everyone is freaking out, the last thing you want is your pets all loose and stressed out. This might be a great time to purchase some calming pheromone sprays for pets: Feliway for cat and Adaptil for dogs. These are available OTC at pet stores and Amazon. Some pets might want a favorite blanket or toy, just like children.
Some other items to keep in your shelter room are a charged up phone, flashlight, and a battery powered radio. It is a pretty helpless feeling to be hunkered down in a bathroom, in the dark, listening to the sirens, and you have no clue what is going on. Many cities have a Red Alert system, which will call you if there is a local emergency, but you have to subscribe ahead of time. In Lewisville, they call it Citizen Alert. In a tornado, the cell towers might go down. Keep a battery powered radio handy, and know some local channels. And there are many apps for phones that can get weather and Dallas News, but not necessarily Lewisville news.
Some basic preparations are to make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, you have at least a week or two of important medications, and that they are microchipped. This is not the time to run out of allergy pills, heart medications, or specialty diets. I see quite a few stray dogs and cats after big wind storms here when fences blow down. A tag on a collar or a microchip really helps reconnect Fido and owner.
What if you have to leave? Sometimes it just isn’t safe to stay home. Would you know what to pack? Where to go? When to leave? I am sure there are many people in the Carolinas or Californians near wildfires asking themselves that same question now.
Next week’s blog will be on “Go” bags and preplanning for a bug out.
For more information: https://www.ready.gov/animals