September is National Preparedness Month, and Mother Nature has wreaked destruction throughout the South during the past month, with Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida. Officials continue to emphasize the importance of preparedness to help people and pets remain safe during severe weather events. Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can!

The first step when faced with any emergency is to keep informed. Pay attention to mass warning systems that inform on weather conditions, and remember that during a disaster, what’s good for you is good for your pet. Always keep a pet indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster…. Never leave him chained outdoors. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if at all possible, planning for the worst-case scenario. Even if you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that it could extend as long as several days or even weeks. If left behind, your pet may be lost, injured—or worse. According to Ready. Gov, plan options should include:

  • Create a buddy system in case you are not home. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your pets.
  • Find pet friendly hotels along your evacuation route, locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter, and keep a list in your pet’s emergency kit.
  • Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter in case your pet needs medical care.
  • Make sure all pets wear collars and ID tags with up-to-date identification. Microchipping will be a more permanent form of identification.

Basic disaster survival kits should be prepared with the following recommended items:

  • A one-week supply of the food your dog is accustomed to eating, and a one week supply of water. Include bowls for both water and food.
  • Pooper scooper, and plastic bags or other means of disposing your dog’s waste.
  • Paper towels, liquid soap for washing the bowls, and disinfectant for cleaning crates and carriers.
  • A crate or carrier is usually needed during an evacuation and afterword, especially if you will be staying somewhere for awhile. The crate should be large enough for the dog to lie down comfortably and allow room for a food and water dish.
  • An extra harness and leash.
  • A temporary identification tag that you can write your temporary location or in case the dog is separated from you. Current photos of your dog , preferably with you to prove ownership if you are separated. It will also allow others to assist you find your pet.
  • A two-week supply of any medications your dog is taking, and medical records including vaccination documents
  • Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.
  • A minimum first aid kit should include:
    • a basic first-aid guide book
    • cotton bandage rolls
    • bandage tape and scissors
    • antibiotic ointment
    • flea and tick prevention
    • latex gloves
    • isopropyl alcohol
    • saline solution.
  • A blanket
  • A flashlight

You should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family including: batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.

Your pets are totally dependent on you for their safety and well being. … if it is not safe for you to stay in your home during an emergency, it is not safe for your pets either. Don’t wait for a disaster…have a plan…being prepared can save their lives as well as yours.