1. Start getting ready now
*ID your pet
Make sure that your cat or dog is wearing a collar and identification that is up to date and visible at all times. You'll increase your chances of being reunited with a lost pet by having him or her microchipped.If your pet is adopted from a shelter or rescue organization, make sure the registration has been transferred to you and is not still with the adoption group.
Put your cell phone number on your pet's tag. It may also be a good idea to include the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area--in case you have had to evacuate.
*Put together your disaster kit
Every member of your family should know what he or she needs to take when you evacuate. You'll also need supplies for your pet. Stock up on non-perishables well ahead of time, and have everything ready to go at a moment's notice. Keep everything accessible and stored in sturdy containers (duffel bags, covered trash containers, etc.) that can be carried easily. Any dry pet food should be stored in air-tight containers and refreshed every 6 months.
2. If you evacuate, take your pet
Rule number one: If it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets. Even if you think you will only be gone for a few hours, take your pets. You have no way of knowing how long you'll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able--or allowed--to go back for your pets.
Pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Those left inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows. And pets turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents. Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence.
Rule number two: Evacuate early. Don't wait for a mandatory evacuation order. Some people who have waited to be evacuated by emergency officials have been told to leave their pets behind.
The smell of smoke, high winds or lightening may make your pet more fearful and difficult to load into a crate or carrier. Evacuating before conditions become severe will keep everyone safer and make the process less stressful.
3. If you stay home, do it safely
If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together. Make that safe area animal friendly:
Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened cats may try to hide.
Move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in the area.
Be sure to close your windows and doors, stay inside, and follow the instructions from your local emergency management office.
Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way. Keep pets under your direct control; if you have to evacuate, you will not have to spend time trying to find them. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.
If you have a room you can designate as a "safe room," put your emergency supplies in that room in advance, including your pet's crate and supplies. Have any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies. If there is an open fireplace, vent, pet door, or similar opening in the house, close it off with plastic sheeting and strong tape.
Listen to the radio periodically, and don't come out until you know it's safe.
4. Keep taking care even after the disaster
Your home may be a very different place after the emergency is over, and it may be hard for your pets to adjust.
Don't allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet will probably be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations.
While you assess the damage, keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the house. If your house is damaged, your pets could escape.
Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Be ready for behavioral problems caused by the stress of the situation. If these problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.
If your community has been flooded, search your home and yard for wild animals who may have sought refuge there. Stressed wildlife can pose a threat to you and your pet.
5. Be ready for everyday emergencies
*You can't get home to your pet
There may be times that you can't get home to take care of your pets. Icy roads may trap you at the office overnight, an accident may send you to the hospital--things happen. But you can make sure your pets get the care they need by making arrangements now:
Find a trusted neighbor, friend, or family member and give him or her a key to your house or barn. Make sure this back-up caretaker is comfortable and familiar with your pets (and vice versa).
Make sure your back-up caretaker knows your pets' whereabouts and habits.
Let your back-up caretaker know where your pets' food is and where you normally feed them and keep their water bowl, and if they need any medication.
If you use a pet sitting service, find out in advance if they will be able to help in case of an emergency.
*The electricity goes out
Keep your pets with you. If you're forced to leave your home because you've lost electricity, take your pets. If it's summer, even just an hour or two in the sweltering heat, whether outdoors in a yard or inside an apartment, mobile home, or house, can be dangerous. Find a pet friendly hotel. If it's winter, don't be fooled by your pets' fur coats; it isn't safe to leave them in an un-heated house.
If you stay at home during a summer power outage, ask your local emergency management office if there are pet-friendly cooling centers in the area.