We’re entering into a busy weather season that means threats of tornados, severe thunderstorms, flooding and other weather-related events.  Are you and your pet ready?  The Spring/Summer season is a good time to make sure you’ve got everything in place should a disaster strike your family. Being prepared gives you peace of mind before an emergency or disaster strikes and it’s a very important way to ensure the safety of both you and your pets.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I) offers these tips to help protect your pets in the event of a disaster:

1. Create a detailed disaster plan that includes your pets –Find out if any local shelters will accept both people and pets. Make advance arrangements to have a friend or neighbor pick up your pets in the event you are not at home when a disaster strikes. And, plan where you will meet or how you will reach each other. If you must stay in your home find a safe space for you and your pets. Make sure your pet is crate trained in case they need to be secured or transported.

2. Make a grab-and-go pet disaster kit – Put the following items in a waterproof container: medication and medical records (including proof of rabies vaccination); pet first aid kit, leashes, harnesses, crates and carriers for transporting pets; a muzzle, if your pet requires one; food and water for at least three days; a manual can opener; cat litter and litter box; comfort toys; an old towel or two; recent photo of your pet in case you become separated; name and phone number of your veterinarian; pet insurance information.

3. If you must evacuate, take your pets! Be prepared to leave early; do not wait for an official evacuation as you might be ordered to leave your pets behind. Keep pets on leashes or in carriers at all times. Make sure your pet is wearing up-to-date identification. Include the phone number of a friend or relative outside your area in case your pet gets lost and you cannot be reached. Mark the crate or carrier with similar information. Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier. During warm weather, carry a plant mister to mist the bird’s feathers periodically. Do not put water inside the carrier during transport; instead provide a few slices of fresh fruit or vegetables with high water content.

4. Following the disaster – Once you return home, don’t allow your pets to roam free right away. While you assess the damage, keep dogs on a leash and other animals in their carriers. In the absence of familiar landmarks and smells, pets may become disoriented. Give them some time to get used to their “new” surroundings. Try to get your pets back into their normal routines as soon as possible, and be on the lookout for stress-related behavioral problems; if they persist, talk to your veterinarian.

For more information, check out the I.I.I.’s article on pet evacuation, which also includes evacuation tips for reptiles and pocket pets such as hamsters and gerbils.

Having a plan for you and your family including your pets will help you move into action should a disaster strike.