Monday, February 29, 2016

Emergency Preparedness for our Pets

Connor on my lap. He and my other cats depend on me to take care of them.

Earlier this month, the area where I live in Virginia was hit by snow, then sleet, then freezing rain, then rain. So ice clung to trees and power lines.

One morning at about 5, we heard a loud boom. We got up and ran to look out the window in the direction of the noise. A fire was in lighting up the ice and snow at the intersection right above our house. Flames were spewing out of the main line to the transformer, which had broken off when a tree fell over on it.

Everything turned out OK. But as I ran through the house, looking out of the windows, seeing how the flames lit up the trees around us, all I could think of was, we’ve got to get the carriers out in case we have to get out of here.

Because we would never leave without our cats.

I was reminded of that this past week when an EF3 tornado hit Appomattox County, which is the next county over from us. A tornado warning was issued for our county too, but the tornado affected and created devastation in Appomattox.

Are Larry and I prepared for a disaster? Are we prepared to pack up our cats at a minute’s notice and have everything we need to take with us? No, I admit we’re not. And I used to be a public health educator who wrote and talked about disaster preparedness. 

We never know when a natural or manmade disaster will force us to shelter in place or evacuate, and we need to be ready to care for our pets.

I gathered some online resources to help us get better prepared, and I am sharing them with you in the hopes that you’ll find them helpful.

*The ASPCA website has a section on Disaster Preparedness. It provides a good list of things to consider before something happens, like who would be a good caretaker for your pets if you can’t care for them. It also offers specific information for those with horses, reptiles, birds, and small animals like gerbils.

*The American Red Cross website makes recommendations on Pets and offers a printable Pets and Disaster Safety Checklist.

* provides Pets and Animal Emergency Planning information and includes a video.

Are you prepared for yourself and your pets in the event of a disaster? Or are you like me and need to work on this?


  1. Yes as best we can...since our neighbours had an unexpected fire in their home down the square from us, we were reminded how someone else's disaster could also be our own as we watched 3 fire trucks fight the fire for hours, after which we'd learn their three indoor cats had run away, one was never found. After this our 'stuff' is together and ready to move all of us at a moment's notice, cats and dog have electronic devices and tatoos, carriers, boxes food, plus I'd not known our neighbours had three indoor cats, now our neighbours know that we've 5 animals requiring aid if anything untoward should happen to our home or us. Great advice you've shared Tina.

  2. We are in OK shape on this. The place we are weak is food. We usually only have a couple weeks foods on hand for all the animals. It would be better to have a few months. We have plenty of medical supplies though and I have a number of specialized animal supplies so that if I really had to I could do stitches or bandages or whatever was needed along those lines. I used to work at a vet do although I would prefer to actually take my pets to a vet, but if for some reason I could not, at least I could provide basic medical care.

  3. I'm more prepared for a disaster as far as Lizzie is concerned than I think I am for me. She always has plenty of food, the carrier is within easy reach and right now no meds to worry about. The big thing would be getting her out from under the bed if there was a lot of chaos!

  4. I have an idea of what I should do in case of emergency but I don't think I'm prepared. I should work more on this.

  5. Excellent post. Thank you for the links too. I need to start having more food on hand instead of buying it weekly, but with 14 cats that is hard.

  6. This is another much needed reminder to our mom that she needs to make sure she is prepared for a disaster as far as we're concerned.

  7. It's just hard to think about this stuff! I do keep the carriers easily at hand now, instead of tucked away high.