An evacuation plan is a necessity for every home, especially if you live in an area where fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters are a possibility. Many homeowners create evacuation plans for their homes and practice them with their children, but far fewer have considered one for their pets.
Take these steps to add your pets to your evacuation plan.
ID your pet.
Make sure that your cats and dogs are wearing collars with identification tags that are up to date. Put your cell phone number on your pet’s tag. A phone number is more important and far more useful than an address, especially in evacuation situations.
You'll increase your chances of being reunited with pets who get lost by having them microchipped; make sure the microchip registration is in your name. But remember: the average citizen who finds your pet won't be able to scan for a chip, but they will probably be able to read a basic tag!
Assign pet evacuation to an adult.
Everyone should know how to act during an evacuation, and that includes assigning one parent or adult to the pets. This allows the other parent and the children to focus on their part of the evacuation plan, so there’s no confusion during a high-stress moment when time is of the essence.
Put together your disaster kit.
Having a kit prepared in advance can be invaluable in emergency situations. Use this checklist from the Humane Society to assemble your emergency kit for yourself and your pets.
Have a safe place to stay.
Never assume that you will be allowed to bring your pet to an emergency shelter. Before a disaster hits, call your local office of emergency management to see if you will be allowed to evacuate with your pets and verify that there will be shelters in your area that take people and their pets.
Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to find out if they accept pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size and species. Inquire if a "no pet" policy would be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of animal-friendly places handy, and call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home. For help identifying pet-friendly lodgings, check out these websites:
Plan for your pet in case you’re not home.
In case you're away during a disaster or evacuation order, make arrangements well in advance for someone you trust to take your pets and meet you at a specified location. Be sure the person is comfortable with your pets and your pets are familiar with them. Give your emergency caretaker a key to your home and show them where your pets are likely to be (especially if they hide when nervous) and where your disaster supplies are kept.
Practice your plan.
Include your pets in your home evacuation drills. It’ll help you see how they will respond and make changes to your plan if necessary. Getting your dog out of a window may not be as simple as you think!