No one wants to think about disaster striking, but every pet owner should be concerned about floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and fires. Being prepared could mean the difference between life and death for your family and your pets. The following five easy steps will ensure you are prepared if disaster hits.

Step 1: Put a free pet-rescue sticker in your front window

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers a free sticker that details how many animals you have, whether they are dogs or cats, and your veterinarian’s phone number. Plus, if you evacuate with your pets, you can write “Evacuated” across the stickers and alert rescuers that no animals are in your home. (Order your free sticker here!)

Step 2: Plan for a disaster

It’s important to think about your geographic location and to plan specifically for your area. For example, the city of Charlotte, which historically gets hit by hurricanes, provides floodplain maps so you can be aware of areas that flood.

In general, your plan should include places where you could evacuate that would accept your pet, where you would take your pet, and who could care for your pet if you could not get home. Make a list of animal-friendly hotels and animal shelters in your area, and identify a neighbor or trusted friend who would be willing to care for your animals if your home is compromised.

Also, be sure to make a plan and have an emergency kit for each pet that is quickly accessible. Everyone involved in the plan should know where to find the kit. Your pets should be current on vaccinations, microchipped with up-to-date information, and wearing tags with your information in case of an emergency. Never leave pets chained up or to fend for themselves during a disaster.

Step 3: Prepare an emergency kit for your pets

This takes time, but it’s important. Each pet’s kit should include a three-day supply of food and water in waterproof, airtight containers, one week’s supply of vital medications, written feeding and medicating instructions, copies of prescriptions and medical records, a collar, a leash, and a carrier. Newspapers, bleach, rubber gloves, and plastic trash bags, plus poop bags for dogs and litter and a litter box for cats should also be included in case you and your pet need to evacuate.

You should also prepare a first-aid kit that includes bandages, bandage tape, antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol, cotton pads, tweezers, and saline solution, and perhaps a pet first-aid book.

Step 4: Have your pet microchipped

Microchipping your pet is important, because a microchip will not get lost like a collar or tag. Your veterinarian can help you enroll your pet in a national recovery database, so even if you and your pet are separated, you can be reunited. If your pet is already chipped, ensure the contact information in the database is up-to-date.

Step 5: Have a picture of you with your pet  

If you and your pet are separated during an evacuation, it helps to have a clear, current picture of you and your pet together to help find her, and to provide proof of ownership. Be sure the picture shows any identifying markings, and keep several copies in your disaster kit.

No one ever wishes for a disaster or an emergency evacuation, but following  these steps will ensure you and your pets are ready. Call our team to help you prepare for an emergency and to  vaccinate and microchip your pets, if necessary.