With many in Richmond still dealing with the after effects of Hurricane Irene and the potential for additional severe weather in the near future, there is no better time than now to plan for your family’s safety during an emergency.
Before a Disaster
Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit
In an emergency situation, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Before a disaster, prepare a emergency supply kit and make sure that everyone in the family knows where it is. Recommended items include:
- Water, one gallon per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, three day supply of non perishable food in a water-proof container
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio; extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Dust mask, plastic sheeting, and duct tape, to filter out contaminates and shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes and garbage bags, for personal sanitation
- Wrench or plier, to turn off utilities
- Can opener
- Local area maps
- Cell phone and charger, inverter or solar charger
Visit Ready.gov for additional recommended items
- Water, food, and medicine (in a water-proof container) for at least 3 days for each pet
- Sturdy leash, harness, and/or carrier for safely moving your pet
- Proper identification
- Immunization records and veterinarian contact information
- Litter, litter box, paper towels, trash bags and household bleach for sanitation
- Photo of you and your pet together (if you become separated from your pet, this will aid in reunification)
Have an Evacuation Plan
If evacuation becomes necessary, be prepared to take your pet with you. Prepare a list of pet-friendly hotels, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds (Go Pet Friendly has an extensive list of pet-friendly accomodations across the US and Canada), and double-check their pet policy. Do they have any breed restrictions? Weight limits? A limit to the number of animals per room?
If you evacuate to a public shelter, contact local emergency management (in Richmond, the number is 804.646.2504) for information on pet-friendly emergency shelters.
In the event that you aren’t at home when disaster strikes, or can’t get back to your home, have a plan for a trusted neighbor or family member to care for your animals. Develop a buddy system; make sure your designated caretaker is familiar with your pets (and vice versa), and knows where emergency supplies are located. Designate locations to meet, if possible, after a disaster.
Know what to do as disaster approaches
- Stay informed; often warnings are issued hours, if not days, in advance of severe weather.
- Know where your evacuation supplies are and check that they are fully stocked.
- If you plan to evacuate, confirm with evacuation sites that their pet policies have not changed.
- Bring all pets inside so you can be ready to leave as soon as possible, should the need arise.
During a Disaster
Try to keep your pet as calm and comfortable as possible by establishing a routine as best you can; if possible, feed your pet at the same time every day, and make sure they have access to water and exercise. During times of crisis, stress can negatively affect your pet’s immune system, so avoid contact between your pet and other animals. Stress can also cause your pet to act in unpredictable ways – even the most trustworthy pet may bolt, hide, scratch, or bite in a strange environment. Make sure your pet is leashed or in a carrier at all times.
After a Disaster
When returning to normal life after a disaster, give your pet some time to readjust to regular routines. If you home or yard suffered damage during the disaster, keep your pet leashed until you are certain there are no holes in your fence, trees or debris leaning on a fence or building that you pet could use as a ladder, or broken windows your pet could escape through. Monitor your pet’s behavior, and consult your veterinarian if you observe any persistent behavior problems.
-photo courtesy Ted Van Pelt