None of us likes to think of negative possibilities, but when an emergency strikes you’ll be thankful if you took the time to be prepared for keeping your loved ones safe. Whether the problem is caused by Mother Nature or something else this may be a good time to take the steps necessary to get equipped to handle such an emergency.
Create an Emergency Action Plan
Preparing for an emergency can be broken down into three categories – before, during and after. Here are some important steps to consider for each:
Before the emergency:
- Make sure you pets are wearing collars or ID tags that are up to date at all times. If you are separated from your pet, this is the best way to ensure being reunited. Include your cell phone number on your pet’s tag. Microchipping can also be used, but the average citizen won’t have the technology to read a chip.
- Find a safe place to stay ahead of time. Not all disaster shelters will allow pets, so make arrangements with friends or relatives or make a list of boarding facilities or vet offices that would take your pet. Another option is to create a list of pet-friendly lodging places which you can research at: bringfido.com, dogfriendly.com, pet-friendly-hotels.com, pets-allowed-hotels.com, petswelcome.com and tripswithpets.com.
- Arrange for an emergency caretaker in case you’re away when a disaster or evacuation order occurs. Make arrangements well in advance with someone you trust, who is comfortable with your pet and your pet is familiar with them. Give them a key to your home and show them where your daily pet and disaster supplies are kept, along with feeding and care instructions.
During the emergency:
- Stay connected and informed of the status of the emergency. In all cases of evacuation, take your pet with you. Pets left behind can easily be injured, lost or killed, not to mention the trauma they will endure. Also, it may not pay to wait for a mandatory evacuation order. Evacuating early before conditions become severe will be more safe and less stressful for everyone.
- If your family stays at home during the disaster, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together. Move dangerous items out of that area and put your emergency supplies in that room in advance. Have your medications, emergency supplies and food and water for everyone in watertight containers. Close off any open vents to the outdoor with strong plastic sheeting and tape. Keep a radio and extra batteries there for periodic updates.
After the emergency:
- Keep your pets on leashes or in carriers when you return to your home. If your home is damaged, your pet could escape while you are busy assessing the damage. Familiar smells and landmarks may also be gone, leaving your pet disoriented.
- Be patient with your pets after a disaster. They will need time to readjust when it’s over. Try to get them back to their normal routine as soon as possible, but be ready for behavioral issues caused by the stress of the situation. Call your veterinarian if your pet seems to be having any health problems.
Stock a Pet First Aid Kit
Whether you’re at home or travelling, keep a pet first aid kit with you. You can certainly purchase a kit from a pet supply store, but it’s easy to create one yourself. One way to start is to buy a kit designed for humans and add pet-specific items to it.
- Pet first aid information – see more below
- Contact information and directions to your veterinarian, the nearest emergency vet clinic and a poison-control center or hotline (such as ASPCA’s Poison Control Center at 800-426-4435)
- Paperwork for your pet (in a waterproof bag): rabies vaccination certificate, other important medical records, feeding and care instructions and a picture of you with your pet in case he gets lost
- Nylon leash
- Self-clinging bandage tape – the kind that sticks to itself but not the fur
- Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting. Don’t use this if your pet is having trouble breathing or is vomiting, choking or coughing
Basic first aid supplies:
- Non-latex disposable gloves
- Absorbent gauze pads and cotton balls
- Antiseptic wipes, lotion or spray
- Antibiotic ointment
- Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
- Adhesive tape and scissors (with blunt ends)
- Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (only use this if directed by a veterinarian or the poison control expert)
- Diphenhydramine or Benadryl® for allergic reactions (get the dosage from your veterinarian)
- Ice pack
- Rectal thermometer
- Petroleum jelly and rubbing alcohol (for lubricating and cleaning the thermometer)
- Foil emergency blanket
- Splints and tongue depressors
- Plastic eyedropper or syringe
- Penlight or flashlight
Pet First Aid Resources
A crucial part of the emergency plan is having access to up-to-date pet first aid information giving contact information and first-aid techniques for each situation. You can order the book “Pet First Aid: Cats and Dogs” published by The Human Society of the United States and the American Red Cross by calling 202-452-1100.
Or you can download the mobile app “Pet First Aid by American Red Cross” which puts veterinary advice for everyday emergencies in the palm of your hand. It contains videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice on pet first aid. It’s available at the Apple Store, Google Play or Amazon Marketplace.
This blog is brought to you by Under the Weather™, provider of products for sick pets.
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