House fires, wildfires, tornados, hurricanes and other disasters can destroy a home and displace families in a matter of minutes. If you live in an area prone to the destructive forces of nature, having a plan can save the lives of both you and your family – including your pets.
In the case of a house fire, when seconds count, organization matters even more when it comes to saving your pets. July 15 is National Pet Fire Safety Day, and as such, we’re here to offer a few tips to help you prepare in the case of an emergency situation.
When Quick Exits are Required
First and foremost, you have to get to a safe place – and you have to take your pet with you. Don’t leave your dog behind to fend for itself or for first responders to rescue – they’ll likely be too busy saving human lives to take responsibility for your pet.
Depending upon the situation, those safe places could be very different – from the highest ground possible during a flood to an interior room or safe room during a tornado. During a house fire, evacuation is usually the best action, which makes organization very important. To make every second count:
- Keep leashes close to an exit: smoke, flames, heat and hysteria all combine to disorientate people and pets during a fire. Knowing, with absolute certainty, where your dog’s leash is will save time and keep them from bolting out the door in a panic. Being able to use a leash can also allow you to bring a panicked dog under control quickly and move it to a safe place in the house.
- Keep identification on your pet’s collar: always a good idea, ID tags allow neighbors, rescuers and shelters to identify your dog and to contact you should they escape during a disaster and are later found. And while microchips are a good permanent investment, tags on a collar can be read by anyone at anytime.
- Keep a pet identification window decal updated: placed on a window near your front door, the decal alerts first responders to the presence of your pets – including the number that live in the house, description and names.
In the event of a natural disaster that allows a little more time to evacuate, such as a hurricane, wildfire and some floods, you can prepare better and pack more. Here’s the minimum of what you’ll need to keep your pet safe and healthy while under evacuation.
- Medical Issues: Keep a disaster kit handy that contains an updated copy of your dog’s medical records, any medications they’ll need and a first aid kit. Grabbing all of these items in a single bag will save time and room in a vehicle, as well as keeping pertinent information organized.
- Food and water: Bring at least three days worth of food and water with you – seven is even better. You can pack dry food in specially designed travel containers, or even zip-lock bags or plastic grocery bags. Bottled water or gallon jugs can be used to hydrate both humans and pets.
If there’s a chance you’ll be stuck in your house for several days, consider filling your bathtub up with water for an emergency supply. Your hot water tank also contains potable water.
- Identification and containment: Again, ID tags provide a quick means of contact and reunion in the event of separation. A picture of you with your pet can also aid in the search and identification of your pet, too. Leashes and crates also allow you to control your dog, keep him in a safe place and transport him easily.
- Sanitation: If your dog is eating and drinking, it’s going to need to defecate and urinate; plan for it by bringing along clean-up bags or paper towels and the like so it doesn’t become an issue later.
A little disaster preparedness goes a long way to keeping your pet safe, not to mention reducing your stress level, in a time of disaster. Keeping items handy, organized and readily accessible, could help save you and your pet’s life.