Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can!

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.


How Long Has it Been?

As a friend explained how she was busy doing deep spring cleaning, I tried to remember how long it had been since I had done any “deep cleaning,” so I put it on my priority To-Do list. Why I chose the linen closet in the bathroom as a starter project, I don’t know, but I enthusiastically dug in. There on the top shelf was a box marked First Aid Kit (for humans), and I was reminded that I had not updated our Pet First Aid Kits for quite a while.

When an animal is injured, exposed to a poison, or experiences an unexpected medical emergency, it is important to have a well-stocked pet first aid kit. First aid is not a replacement for emergency vet care, but being prepared for pet emergencies is important. You can buy a pet first-aid kit from a pet supply store or catalog, but most of them are overpriced and understocked…..we suggest assembling your own kit (actually we suggest two kits…one for the home and one for the car)…which should include:

  • Pet first-aid book
  • Phone numbers of your vet, the nearest emergency veterinary clinic, and a hotline such as the ASPCA center at 1-800-426-4435.
  • Copies of your pets medical records including shot record, and a current photo of your pet (in case he gets lost)…Put these in a waterproof container or bag.
  • Nylon leash
  • Self-cling, stretch bandages that stick to itself, but not fur.
  • Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting….even the friendliest dog can bite if in pain or fear. (Don’t use a muzzle if the dog is choking, coughing, vomiting or having breathing difficulty) An emergency muzzle can be made with gauze, strip of cloth, or even a leash…make a loop with a single knot at the top, and tighten it over the snout. ‘Then make a second loop with the knot at the bottom and tighten it. Pull the ends of the gauze around and behind the head and tie it securely.
  • Absorbent gauze pads or gauze sponges, roll of strip gauze, and sterile non-stick gauze pads (for bandages)
  • Adhesive tape to use as the final cover on a bandage.
  • Antibiotic ointment for topical treatment of minor wounds.
  • Antiseptic such as Betadine to clean a wound, and Q tip applicators
  • Blanket (a foil emergency blanket works well and takes up little space) If space is available, a regular blanket is helpful for warmth or for carrying a pet hammock style.
  • Canned dog food or baby food
  • Eye wash or sterile water
  • Emergency ice pack
  • Flashlight
  • Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting…but contact a vet or poison-control expert prior to using this
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Popsicle sticks…for stabilizing an injury with a splint
  • Rectal thermometer – a dog’s temp should be between 100 and 103 degrees.
  • Scissors (with blunt ends) and tweezers0
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Wound cleaning solution such as Nolvasan solution

Hopefully you will never need to use the items in your pet first aid kit, but it will certainly be valuable in the event of a medical emergency. If you have an iPhone, the American Red Cross pet First Aid app puts veterinary advice for everyday emergencies in the palm of your hand…with videos, and simple step-by step advice, it’s never been easier to know pet First Aid. You should also make sure that you have important phone numbers for your pet stored in your phone. You never know when they will come in handy….and in case you are wondering, I never did get into “deep cleaning” and as I finished putting together a couple pet first aid kits, I thought about how long it had been, but decided that a long leisurely walk with my dog sounded more inviting.