Disasters can strike at any time, anywhere; from tornadoes to hurricanes, to flash floods and fires, to earthquakes. If an emergency suddenly arises and you need to evacuate, do you have a plan for your family, including your pets? If not, this is a perfect time to develop one.

Do You Have a Disaster Preparedness Plan for Your Pet?

Here are some of my FiveSibes™ tips on being prepared:

1. Get Certified!

If you have not yet taken a Pet First Aid/Pet CPR course, sign up now! Not sure which program to sign up for? Check with your veterinarian for a recommendation.

2. ID Your Pet

Pets can get spooked and escape during emergencies. To help reunite your found dog or cat with you, be sure s/he is microchipped and tagged, and that the information on both is current. If you’ve moved, be sure to contact both the microchip company and your veterinarian to give them your updated contact information.

3. Do you have an ICE Contact?

ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. Program your family’s emergency contact number into your cell phone like this: ICE Aunt Sally. In case you are unable to make the call yourself, emergency personnel can check your phone for the ICE/emergency contact number.

4. Download the ASPCA Free Mobile App

This important app will store your pets’ health records, give important information on what to do with your pet(s) before, during, and after the disaster; receive personalized missing pet recovery kit and instructions, and much more. To download the app, go here.

5. Post Emergency Numbers

List the numbers of your ICE contact, vet, veterinary 24-hour clinic, pet poison control numbers, and helpful family member or friend, not only in your cell phone, but also visibly post them next to your landline phone. No landline? Then post them on your fridge or family bulletin board.

6. Create a “Go” or “Go Fly” Emergency Evacuation Bag or Crate

This should be kept handy near your exit route so you can just grab it and go. Clearly mark the bag or crate for easy visibility (I use a large bright red canvas tote). Items should include: leashes and harnesses/collars, medications and their schedules, hard copy of your pets’ medical records (for proof of vaccinations), vitamins, water, food and treats (be sure to keep an eye on the expiration dates), can opener, blanket(s), pet seat belts, bowls, poop bags, litter box, pet cleaning wipes, a First Aid Kit (including a pet First Aid manual), and toys.

How much water and food to pack?

According to the Humane Society of the United States, “Food and water for at least five days for each pet.” Also, have current photos of your pet (actual photos and digital ones stored in your mobile devices)  in case your pet escapes. You may need to show proof if your pet is found, as well as for making a missing pet poster, listing on a lost pet website, or to share with local authorities.

7. Have a Plan: Practice Your Plan

Make an exit plan, and then do periodic practice drills with your family and pets so it becomes familiar. Be sure to have a list of pet-friendly shelters and hotels, as well as boarding kennels and vet offices for outlying neighboring areas, in case of evacuation. If your pet goes in a carrier when traveling, keep one near the exit with the “go” bag. And don’t forget the car charger for your cell phone and tablet!

If a disaster should occur, it’s important to never, ever leave any pets behind. Having a preparedness plan not only gives us peace of mind, it is also critical to the safety of our family and pets.

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dorothy wills-rafteryDorothy Wills-Raftery

Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author of EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley: Learning About Health & Fitness; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle books (ArcticHouse Publishing), as well as the international FiveSibes blog, based on the lives of her five Siberian Huskies. Her work has also appeared in American Pet Magazine, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy is the writer and host of “The Sibe Vibe” Dog Works Radio show.” Named “Best Author” in 2015 & 2016 by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four books named “Best in Print” by American Pet Magazine, Dorothy is a 5-time Dog Writers of America Association “Excellence” nominee, winning the prestigious Maxwell Medallion in 2016 for her writing. An official International Purple Day® for Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy is the creator of the FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign inspired by her own epileptic Husky, Gibson. In addition to her Siberian Huskies, Dorothy shares her home­ with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and new grandson. You can follow Dorothy and her FiveSibes on Facebook at FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews, on Google + , Twitter, and Instagram (@FiveSibesMom).

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