Help the public responsibly prepare for a disaster

by Sharon Kutsop

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Being prepared for an emergency can be the difference between life and death. It is the key to safety and survival. If you have ever been in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, you know that preparing after the damage is done can be impossible. Gas stations are often unable to distribute gasoline if the power is out, and the ones that can pump will likely be facing a gasoline shortage and possibly even fuel rationing in the days after the event. In addition to that, stores may quickly run out of supplies or be closed due to damage. ATMs run out of cash more quickly than many people may think.

Dixie from ID04 Simply Cats Diabetic

Dixie is an adoptable cat from Simply Cats in Idaho. Dixie is diabetic, and in the event of an emergency she would soley rely on her humans to be preapred enough to keep her safe.

You can help your organization deal with the aftermath by educating the public about disaster preparedness now. Hang informational flyers, post tips on websites and offer short educational seminars letting people know the importance of having supplies stocked for at least 3 days, whether their plan is to evacuate or stay put in their home. The kit should be re-evaluated and supplies refreshed every 6 months.

A disaster plan should also involve a destination and plans on to safely reach that location without government assistance. It is importance to stress to the public that they need to prepare for their pets and their family, and only rely on assistance from the government or volunteers if absolutely necessary. This level of responsibility will take pressure off of already over-burdened animal control facilities and rescue organizations. They should have a solid understanding of how their role of being responsible for their pets will not only protect them, but potentially save the lives of other animals that need the limited space within the shelters and rescues. The head of the household should be sure to share the details of the plan with other family members regularly. People are much less likely to panic if they know what to expect. Here are some suggested items for people to add to their pet friendly disaster kit:

A list of emergency numbers, including your veterinarian, other clinics and animal control

One crate per animal and a leash/harness/collar for each

At least three days’ worth of food and water (including bowls)

If you have a cat, kitty litter, a pan and scooper

Toys and bedding that are familiar to the animals, which will help reduce stress

Any medications your pets take and a list of dietary restrictions/requirements

Copies of vaccine records and proof of ownership

Trash bags and paper towels

For more information on disaster preparedness and information you can share with the public, please visit our page on disaster preparedness.