This guide addresses tornadoes, thunderstorms, winter storms, floods, wildfires, extreme heat, and earthquakes. This guide can be easily downloaded on the NAPPS web site at http://www.petsitters.org/napps_
Developed by NAPPS’ Disaster Preparedness Committee, the guide also includes an official pet identification form, checklist for a complete disaster supply kit, and special recommendations
for birds, reptiles, and other small animals.
Pay attention to changes in a pet’s behavior. Dogs, in particular, can often hear thunderstorms or sense changes in barometric pressure due to an approaching tornado before people can. Some dogs may become anxious, hide or vocalize.
Floods Come In Two Types
Regarding floods, there are two main types: slow- or fast-rising. Slow-rising floors tend to move down a river or stream and can often be predicted to reach a certain height. Flash floods, however, usually occur as the result of extremely heavy rain or melting snow and can strike suddenly, such as if a dam or level breaks.
Identify different routes to evacuate. During the evacuation, if your vehicle stalls in flowing water, safely get out as soon as possible.
Counter winter’s wrath by keeping your vehicle winterized with antifreeze and carry a winter care kit that includes food and water, a windshield scraper, a flashlight with extra batteries, a tow chain or rope, a shovel, tire chains, a bag of sand or litter, a fluorescent distress flag and an emergency flare. Also pack extra gloves, socks, winter jacket and blankets.
5 Disaster Prep Strategies
Here are some additional ways to be prepared when disaster strikes:
• Always have a backup for your backup plan. In advance, identify a few safe places you can go to before you need to evacuate. And plan multiple routes to reach these destinations. These can be pet-welcoming hotels, the homes of friends or relatives or pet-permitted emergency shelters.
• Turn your vehicle into a safety storage zone. Stash a waterproof container now in your vehicle that contains a pet first aid kit, large towel, copies of your pet's veterinary medical records, bottled water, canned food, spare leashes, slip leads and collapsible bowls. Also include cotton socks or doggy booties
to protect your pet’s paw pads from sharp objects, or toxic debris during a natural disaster. Don’t forget to pack a human disaster kit that includes three days’ worth of food and water, any needed medications, flashlight with batteries and first aid kit.
• Practice doggy drills. Conduct mini-training sessions once a week with the goal of reducing the time it takes to safely harness or crate your pets and get them safely inside your vehicle. Make these drills fun by speaking in upbeat tones and offering bite-sized healthy treats as rewards to reinforce desired behaviors by your pets.
• Throw the towel on your cat. The safest way to fetch your cat during an emergency evacuation is to wrap her in a thick bath towel or place her in a pillowcase. Never attempt to hold her in your arms or scruff her by the back of the neck — cats have flexible spines and can pivot and bite and scratch you and wiggle free and disappear.
• Keep your cool. Pets often react to our moods. Approach them calmly during an evacuation to reduce their chances of fleeing or hiding or becoming aggressive out of fear. Once secured, keep them in a safe and quiet place during the weather emergency
• Finally, after a natural disaster, keep your pets on leashes or inside carriers until you have surveyed your surroundings and the storm has completely passed.
RedRover: From Crisis to Care
RedRover.org offers lots of great tips to cope with disasters. The non-profit group, formed in 1987, has a dual focused mission: to bring animals out of crisis and to bolster the human-animal bond.
RedRover provides resources and support throughout the country. This year, they are encouraging people to assemble their pet disaster preparedness kits. Then, they invite you to
join their “We’re Ready” campaign by posting the “We’re Ready” sign on your Facebook page to show you are evacuation ready. Learn more by visiting www.redrover.org/pet-disaster-preparedness_.
Emergency Preparedness Checklist
Invest the time to create a disaster preparedness kit now:
• Crate or carrier for each pet. The crate should be big enough to enable the pet to turn around and for cat carriers, have space for a small litter box.
• Pet identification forms for each pet with photos attached.
• Collar and leash for all pets with ID tags and rabies tags
• Vaccinations records for each pet.
• Three-week supply of medications for each pet.
• Calming products, such as Rescue Remedy or DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromones) or Feliway (for cats), to administer to pets who frighten easily.
• Disposable litter boxes and a scoop.
• Cat litter.
• Plastic bags, paper towels and cleaning supplies.
• Three-week supply of food for each pet.
• Manual can opener.
• Food and water bowls for each pet.
• Three-week supply of drinking water.
• Toys or blankets for each pet.
• Grooming items.
• Detailed printed instructions for animal care and rescue workers.
• Copy of emergency numbers and family evacuation plan.
• Copy of veterinary records for each pet.
• Flashlight and batteries.
• Pet first aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptic ointments, gloves, tweezers, gauze, splints and syringes.
• First aid book for pets and for people.
• List of pet-welcoming hotels within a 100-mile radius.
By Sarah Zumhofe