Natural Disaster Safety - Establishing an Emergency Plan for Your Dog
by Patti Lawson;
Sep 7th 2011;
Hurricane season is upon us once again, and all dog owners should have a
disaster plan in place for their pets. I've never been through a hurricane
with my dog, but I did experience a house fire with her, and it was
horrific. I'd never even considered having a plan in place in case of a
fire, let alone a hurricane or other natural disaster, but that night I
vowed to never be without one again. If you are the victim of a natural
disaster or a house fire and don't have a plan, you may not have a chance
to escape without some tragedy.
Get ready before disaster strikes. Pay attention to weather reports, and
don't take chances with your life or your dog's life. Have a place secured
where you can go with your dog when a hurricane or other weather disaster
is approaching. If you decide to ride a storm out at home, have supplies
ready. Make sure you have a room where you will be safe and have food,
water, medications and any other necessary item for your dog, including a
favorite blanket for comfort. These things should always be ready in a safe
place and not gathered in a frantic moment or two before the event.
At a minimum, the following should be part of your safety plan:
1. Post pet rescue alert stickers at the exterior doors of your house.
2. Practice an exit drill that includes your dog. The No. 1 reason dogs
perish in house fires and hurricanes is because they're left alone confined
in a room or a kennel. Put your dog's collar on with identification tags
attached, and take the dog out of the house on a leash.
3. Keep your dog's leash and ID collar in the same place all the time. This
makes it easy to find in an emergency. Consider purchasing a
flame-retardant reflective vest with room to hold your dog's information
and extra collars with all necessary tags attached in case of a need to
evacuate your house swiftly. These vests can also serve as flotation
devices, which are priceless when flooding occurs. Get one for each of your
dogs and have them ready when needed.
4. Take your dog to a safe place. Kennels that have safety facilities are
available in many areas, and you may be able to arrange ahead of time to
have a reservation secured for you dog.
5. Keep in mind that dogs can detect changes in the weather and fire long
before humans do. Pay attention to your dog's behavior. If your dog is
acting strangely, try to discover the reason and follow your evacuation
plan if necessary.
6. Know where your dog would hide should it get away from you.
7. Have an emergency kit ready to go. It should include your dog's
vaccination records and any other medical information, food, bottled water,
first-aid kit for pets, dishes, medication and a familiar toy or blanket.
If your home is destroyed, you might have to place your pet in a kennel for
a few days and these items will be crucial.
8. Keep your dog on a ground floor if you absolutely must to leave it
alone. This makes it easier for them to be rescued if a fire occurs while
you aren't there.
9. Leave a door open if you must leave your pet behind. In a worst-case
scenario when you can't find your dog and must leave, it will at least have
an escape route.
10. After a fire, get your dog checked by a veterinarian. Toxic fumes can
be deadly and if you smell smoke on your dog's fur, it might have a burn
you can't see.
11. Make sure your boarding facility has a plan in case of weather
disasters or a fire. They should have an evacuation plan and a worker on
the premises at all times.
12. Know which hotels in your area accept pets, because not all emergency
shelters allow them.