Natural disasters are occurring on an increasing basis due to climate change. Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes—wherever you live you may experience one or more of these looming dangers and be forced to evacuate your home.
The American Red Cross advises those who must leave their home during a disaster that the best way to protect your dog is to take them with you. If it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe to leave pets behind. During an emergency evacuation, you won’t have time to think about what to take. Here are some helpful tips from the American Red Cross, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. You’ll be glad you took these steps now if and when an emergency arises.
Doing some planning should be a part of your yearly routine, especially if you have pets, for peace of mind whether you live in a hurricane-prone area or may be subject to heavy storms and power outages.
Pet Stickers: Keep a pet sticker in an easy-to-see ground-floor window or apartment door in case something happens and you can’t get home. If you do evacuate with your pet, mark the sticker “evacuated.”
Emergency Locations: Find out where you can go that will also allow your dog in an emergency. Many American Red Cross shelters can’t accept pets, but there are hotels and motels that do. Ask in advance if family or friends in other locations can temporarily house, or research kennels in safe places that can house your dog while you’re staying at a place that is not pet-friendly. Keep a list of phone numbers, in case you find yourself without Wi-Fi.
Keep Current: Keep your dog’s vaccinations, ID tags, and microchip up to date, as well as easy access to these files should they be needed. Have at least a two-week supply of food and any medications ready.
Practice: If you’re going to use a pet carrier or crate, get your dog used to being inside and attach a tag with your dog’s name, your name, and contact information. For safe car or air travel for your small dog, Sleepypod offers a variety of carriers, including its original pet bed, carrier, and car seat combo, as well as a car harness for larger dogs that ensure safety for any size dog riding in the car for when you need to evacuate.
Set Up a Buddy System: Designate a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor who can take care of your dog if something happens when you’re away. Have your dog spend time with this person and give the caretaker’s name to your veterinarian as someone who is authorized to approve medical treatment. Be sure this caregiver knows where your dog’s emergency go-bag is located.
Stay Informed: Figure out how you will receive emergency alerts and warnings. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has an app for weather alerts.
Don’t Dawdle: In some areas of the country, fires, hurricanes, or other disastrous conditions are more likely and may be predicted. When they are, it’s best to leave for a safer location with your dog as soon as possible. Always bring your pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm.
Assemble an Emergency Go-Bag
Gather the items your dog will need and collect them in a sturdy, easy-to-carry container. Sleepypod’s Go Bag is built for pet travel with your dog. It’s comfortable to carry cross-body or by the streamlined grab handle and includes an insulated food pouch, packing cubes to separate medications, separate compartments for important documents, and front pockets for easy access to items like rabies certificates.
Keep your dog’s go-bag where it’s accessible at a moment’s notice and make sure everyone in your household knows where it is. Be sure to pack these items:
- Pet description and recent photos
- Health records such as a rabies certificate, vaccination dates, and prescriptions
- Microchip information
- Your contact information
- Contact information for someone who can care for your dog if you can’t
- Contact information for your veterinarian and your breeder
- Instructions for feeding, medication, and obedience commands your dog responds to
- 2-week supply of food stored in waterproof containers and can opener if needed
- 2-week supply of water
- Food and water dishes
- Sturdy collar with ID and two strong leashes
- First aid kit and instruction booklet
- Prescription medications; flea, tick, and heartworm preventative
- Stress-relief items like an anxiety vest if your dog is anxious.
- Poop bags, pee pads, and clean-up supplies
- To-go carrier for small dogs like Sleepypod’s Air, Atom, or mobile pet bed
Be Aware of After-Effects
Like humans, dogs find emergency evacuations traumatic. “When you get back home, spend low-key time with them and watch for any anxious or defensive behavior,” says Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC. “Consult your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist if this behavior persists.”
When you return home, it’s also a good idea to check your fences and gates for damage and look for hazards such as spilled fertilizers or chemicals that could be toxic to your dog.
Our dogs are members of our family, so we need to include them in any evacuation plans we make. Preparing in advance will help reduce stress for us and for our dogs while enabling us to evacuate faster if an emergency does occur.
Sleepypod is the maker of innovative pet products designed for safer travel. Every product is designed with thoughtful features for efficient living, then safety tested. From the use of baby-safe, BPA-free silicone in Sleepypod’s Yummy Travel Bowls to the crash-testing of the Sleepypod carrier and car harness lines at U.S., Canadian, and E.U. child safety seat standards, Sleepypod devotes careful and caring attention to each detail in every pet product. Safe travels!