Will Your Pet Survive an Emergency?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
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One out of every two people reading this message has a pet. Pet in snowAnd according to surveys, 90% of American pet owners consider their pet “a member of the family.”

So we’ve usually included pets in our articles about family preparedness, just like we include children.

But pets are not children.

So today I want to consider three pet situations that most prepper or survival blogs don’t seem to address.

1 – Pet phobias

Humans, even children, understand what a storm is, and can be calmed and thus make it through loud noises, lightning flashes, etc. They can recognize the need for evacuation.

Many pets, on the other hand, respond to a dramatic change not with understanding, but with real terror.

Their response can be so extreme that it can put them, other animals, and you or family members in danger.

We’ve told the story about a friend’s dog who attended a 4th of July celebration with us. The fireworks – not at all dangerous, and a couple of miles away – were enough to send Boo into a frenzy of barking, trembling, sweating, clawing, trying to run away, and peeing on everything and everybody. His terror lasted for the full 45 minute show. (Ruined it for us, of course.)

That was just one small dog. We kept him safe by holding him. (As you can imagine, Joe, who was doing the holding, needed a shower afterwards!)

As for cats, they are likely to go just as berserk — or just go missing.

Still, if you have the pet at home, what can you do to protect the animal, the house, and other people/pets nearby in an emergency?

Various online websites suggest ideas that I am passing along here. I’d love to hear YOUR story or suggestion.

First and most benign is to try to train your pet to manage his phobia. That can mean setting up a safe and protected place for the pet to get to during the trauma of loud thunder and intense lightning. This could be his crate, a closet, or even the bathtub. Practice having the pet rest there (with a favorite blanket and toy?) on a regular basis when there is no storm or rain; take him there when a storm threatens or the earth shakes. Pets can be trained!

Second, and again this needs practice beforehand, is to give your pet a so-called Thunder Shirt. It’s a jacket that fastens tightly around your pet’s body, applying constant gentle pressure (like swaddling a baby). The Thunder Shirt can be used to lessen separation anxiety, travel stress, fear of loud noises, If you were required to evacuate,a familiar Thunder Shirt  sounds like an excellent idea.. Here’s an example:  ThunderShirt Polo Dog Anxiety Jacket, Heather Gray, Large

 

Third, and only if you are confident in your pet and your own instincts (and have checked with your vet), you might consider giving your pet an anti-anxiety drug. Again, your vet can help with a prescription, but a well-regarded over-the-counter brand is Rescue Remedy. It’s a liquid that you add to your pet’s drinking water. My research showed prices at Amazon to be about HALF what they are elsewhere!

Click on the link to check prices – be sure you’re comparing the same size bottles (10 or 20 ml). Bach Rescue Remedy Pet – 20 ml

 

2 – Emergency rations and stomach upset

When it comes to putting together food for a survival kit, we find that for adults the best are (a) foods you know you will like and (b) foods that don’t need be cooked. Typical favorites: peanut butter, canned and dried fruit, canned tuna.

Do you eat this food all the time? No, but you probably know what to expect and thus would be able to put up with it in an emergency. (Heck, you’d be glad to have it!)

If your pet normally enjoys a particular gourmet brand of wet food, she’s not going to be happy being offered dry kibble in an emergency! She may even refuse to eat it!

And even if she does, you may discover what we all know: a sudden change in food can result in a dramatic change in digestion – and poop.

So, as you pack your pet’s survival kit, be sure to put in her usual fare (along with an appropriate bowl and, if necessary, a can opener). If you have time to prepare for a change of scene, and need to use dried food, introduce the new dried food gradually. Naturally, you want to pack water along with the food.

What experiences have you had with potty breaks or controlling your pet’s poop when she has to stay inside, needs to spend long periods in a carrier, etc.? I have seen a number of gadgets invented to try to catch poop before it falls, but none appears to have been a success! (Have you found one that really works?)

3 – Pets in the dark

While we always tend to think about emergencies in terms of storms, or earthquake, the chances are that a simple power outage is the emergency most likely to hit. Your pet will still need to be walked; to protect him from getting lost or being hit and injured, consider a lighted collar (and leash).

Reflective jackets and collars work fine but only when there is light to be reflected! We’re talking here about a total electrical blackout.

Individual battery-operated LED lights can be attached to a collar, or an LED tube can become a collar all by itself. The lights can be set to blink or shine steadily. Very small animals may not be able to wear all models, but here are several that look very practical and are inexpensive enough to add to a survival kit as well as use on a regular basis for night walks.

Note: The most popular styles come with rechargeable batteries. Remember that in an emergency you may not have electricity to recharge the batteries – so maybe regular batteries would be a better choice!

In any case, measure your pet carefully to be sure you get the right size. Here is an example to get you started:

Flat webbing with led lights embedded : LED Dog Collar – USB Rechargeable – Available in 6 Colors & 6 Sizes – Makes Your Dog Visible, Safe & Seen – Green, X-Small (9  13.7 / 23  35cm)

 

Other lighted pet collars for small animals look just like a piece of tubing that you cut to size!

This is just the start of an effort to focus more attention on pets in emergencies. Watch for a whole new section of our website, coming soon. In the meanwhile, if you have experiences or ideas regarding pets that you would like to share, please send them along via the comments to this post or by contacting me directly.

Do you have pets at work? I am particularly interested in their stories!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Be sure to sign up to receive our regular weekly Advisories, below. Don’t miss any of ‘em! Your family, including your pets, will appreciate it.

 

 

 

Severe Weather Means Danger for Your Pet

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016
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Headlines here today read:

“California still in the grip of a record-setting heat wave.”

I checked the weather map for my friend Russell in Vermont.  Headlines there read:

“East Coast Braces For Life Threatening Cold Temperatures”

In these conditions, pets are in danger!  Grab these checklists and make sure YOUR pets are prepared and protected.Heatstroke kills pets

Cold kills pets

 

I think it goes without saying that your pet needs to have proper ID tags (even a microchip) at ALL times.  And you may have other great suggestions for pet safety and security during extreme weather. Add them in the comments if you will.

In the meanwhile, I’ll get this right out. It may save a pet today or tomorrow.

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

If you haven’t seen it yet, get our complete Pet Emergency Supplies Kit here.

 

 

Pet Emergency Kit — Don’t Put It Off

Thursday, November 19th, 2015
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lost and injured dogAs a pet owner, are you offended at this question:

Do you consider your pet a part of the family?

What about this question:

“Are you one of the 28% of pet owners who plan to buy their pet a gift at Christmas?”

I thought so!

With a gift for your pet in mind (!), don’t overlook the same thoughtful step you have taken for your family members – a survival kit.

There’s only one way to protect your pet.

In an emergency, you will surely want your pet near, safe and comfortable. The only way to manage that is to have a complete kit, ready to put into play at a moment’s notice if you must evacuate.

Even if you are sheltering in place at home, your pet’s routine will be interrupted. So having what you need on hand for your pet will allow you to focus on safety and security for the whole family.

Seven basics for your pet’s emergency kit.

Just like a personal survival kit for your 8-year-old daughter or your 81-year-old mother, your pet’s kit needs to be customized.  Still, there are basics that you can start assembling now if you haven’t already.

In fact, any or all of these items make great Christmas presents!

1.The container or kit itself.

Crates and hard-sided carriers work well if you have plenty of space, but a soft-sided carrier that folds flat may be the most practical for an emergency kit. Get the right size for your pet and the right weight for you, since you will have to carry the container with pet and with the other supplies that are part of it.

Look for sturdy handles and a shoulder strap or backpack straps. You may even want a container with wheels or that’s attached to a rolling cart. Here’s one from Amazon:
Snoozer Roll Around 4-in-1 Pet Carrier, Red & Black, Medium

(I saw it at more than one price, so be sure to shop. As always, if you buy through our link, we may receive a commission from Amazon. The price you pay is the same, no matter what.)

2.Food and water supplies.

Water is the most important, and the heaviest item to manage. As you plan for your family’s needs of 1 gallon a day/person, add extra for your pet. You may be able to store a couple of quarts in the carrier itself, along with a collapsible water dish.

As for food, canned wet food is convenient and doesn’t attract any bugs. BUT, be sure you have a can opener and be sure your pet likes the brand! You don’t want an animal with digestive problems on your hands. You could use the same collapsible dish mentioned above for food, or add a second dish.

3.First aid kit.

Every pet should have a first aid kit, again, customized for that pet (medicines, clippers, veterinary instructions) and for your part of the country (ticks, burrs, heat). Get the smallest kit that works, then add personal items. If you don’t already have what you need packed up in a bag, here are a couple of simple pre-built kits to start with.  Reviews of the second kit were particularly positive.

Essential Pet First Aid Kit

Pet First Aid Kit, Large – 50 Pieces

4.Safety items.

In an emergency, your pet needs a collar or harness and SHORT leash so you can protect it. Your dog may need a muzzle. Store these items in the carrier, too.

If you have to walk your pet, it would make sense to have a hands-free leash, since you are likely to be carrying a flashlight, a tool, or a child or holding hand somebody’s hand. You can get a simple hands-free leash for as little as $5. Here’s a more sophisticated and useful one you could use every day:

Outward Hound Kyjen 23003 Hands Free Hipster Dog Leash Storage Accessory 5ft Leash Included, Blue

5.Sanitary items.

IF YOU HAVE TRAINED YOUR PET IN ADVANCE to wear diapers, or to use pee pads, having a supply in your container makes sense. Obviously you’ll also want some of your usual poop bags.

6.Comfort items.

A familiar blanket and/or towel is probably one of the most valuable items to have in your container. You can wrap your pet for carrying, your pet can use it to lie on, or you can throw it over the container for privacy.

Having a source of light might make you both feel more comfortable; consider a couple of light sticks or LED Glow Stick like this one that has several “light modes” (steady, blink) as well as a whistle:

Life Gear Multimode 4N1 Glow Stick, Flashlight, Safety Flasher, Emergency Whistle, RED

A favorite toy also makes sense – but don’t get a fetch toy, or a tugging toy, or a toy that squeaks!  Here’s one that you might try out – according to the manufacturer it has a “protein taste and vanilla smell” and is likely to keep your pet engaged for a long time.

Petmate Dogzilla Rubber Dumbbell Shaped Dog Toy, Small

7.Pet ID

As you probably know, not every shelter allows pets, so you may be separated. Attach a waterproof envelope to the container that clearly identifies its occupant – with photo, name of owner, emergency contact information, history of shots, etc.  Keep copies of all this information for yourself, too.

Disclaimer: Joe and I don’t currently have a pet, though we’ve each owned several. We interviewed many enthusiastic pet owners for items in this blog post and have shopped in local pet stores for ideas and current brands.

We have also discovered in our community that more than half of our senior neighbors have pets. And nationally, while families with children are the most likely to have pets, more younger couples are getting pets, too, as they postpone having children. Who do you know with a pet? Be sure they have this information.

In an emergency, out of control lost animals will create heartbreak and danger for all.

Protect your pets now by putting together emergency kits for each of them.

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

Pack Your Survival Kit for Evacuation

Sunday, May 24th, 2015
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At our neighborhood CERT meeting yesterday, the question came up about the best emergency supplies kit.

Whatever kit you have is better than none.

If you are forced to leave home (or work) in a big hurry, you’ll only have time to grab “the kit,” and hopefully a bottle of water. Whatever is in the kit is what you’ll have to work with. You won’t have time to do any packing!

If you don’t have a kit, you’ll be worse than useless – you’ll be a burden on others.

Assume you have to manage your kit yourself.

Here in California nearly every trip I take is in my car, so I have several types of emergency stuff packed in the trunk. But what if roads are impassible, or the car is disabled, or we are asked to evacuate ON FOOT?

The only solution: ONE bag that I can carry myself.

Can you carry your kit?

At our meeting, several people stated flat out, “I can’t carry anything.” These were people who need a cane or a walker, who have back problems, or who are simply not very strong.

How many people in your family or your team at work would have trouble carrying a bag?

Which survival kit option would work best for you?

The best option . . .

for a survival kit is a backpack that will leave both your hands free.

When Joe and I decided to put together our kit  we looked for a backpack that was light, flexible and NOT TOO BIG. (Our build-it-yourself kit, shown in the image with its accompanying book, has sold out at Amazon.)

If you’re a hiker, you’ll be familiar with much larger and sturdier backpacks, with many more features. Maybe you even have one you can use for a survival kit. But we looked for a pack that the ordinary person could (1) afford and (2) be able to manage.

Because your backpack needs to be compact, you have to be deliberate in selecting what needs to be in it. It’s easy to lay out too much stuff!

Second best option . . .

in my opinion is a rolling cart. You can select something as sturdy as a rolling suitcase, but for emergency, infrequent use you likely will want something simpler, smaller and lighter. Here’s what looks like an excellent choice. This one’s called the  California Pak The Big Eazy 20 Inch, Navy Blue, One Size
and it comes in various sizes and colors.

 

Some things to consider about a rolling cart:

  • Does the cart/bag have a handle so it can be carried by hand if necessary?
  • Could you fit it on your lap in a bus?
  • Does it zip up or otherwise close completely?
  • Is the handle long enough for you?

Each person needs a kit, and each kit will be different.

What you think is important and are willing to carry is up to you. Your 10-year-old child, though, probably needs a few different items (including snack food!). And your 79-year-old grandmother needs other items altogether.

Action Item: Build a basic kit for each person, and then add those individual items to customize the kit to its owner.

Store the kit near the exit door, so you can grab it on the way out. You’ll only have minutes – but you’ll feel a lot more secure heading out if you have your survival kit in your hands.

It’s always back to basics, right?!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. Your pet needs an evacuation kit, too. Here’s a link to more about your pet’s survival kit.

 

Evacuate Immediately!

Saturday, May 31st, 2014
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Evacuate ImmediatelyIf someone said to evacuate RIGHT NOW, would you be ready?

  • Do you know where you would likely be heading?
  • Do you know if your pet will be allowed to go there with you?
  • Do your family members/children, who aren’t at home right now, know where you will be and how to contact you?

Here’s more about evacuations that might help you answer these questions!

Who actually gives the evacuation order?

News reports always talk about “the authorities.” In our local community, evacuation orders are given by the fire department and executed by the police department. To get the most attention and the best response to evacuation orders, professionals recommend that the warnings be issued as coming from ALL sources available (First Responders, local government, Red Cross, National Weather Service, etc.), so as to make them more credible.

Once I leave, when can I come back?

Generally, once an area is evacuated, residents will be prevented from returning until officials declare an all-clear.

If the evacuation takes place “too early,” authorities are challenged to retain control of the once-evacuated area. There’s always the danger of looters trying to sneak in. And residents go to all lengths, finding their way by back roads, etc.,  to get back to their homes to pick up valuables and particularly to deal with pets that were left behind.

What if I don’t want to leave?

As a private citizen, you can always leave your home at any time if you feel threatened. By the same token, you can refuse to evacuate if you think your home is safe, you need to provide continuing care to a family member, etc.

If an area has been officially evacuated, though, emergency personnel may be pulled away from your neighborhood and you will be left on your own. (For a very interesting view of the kinds of people who don’t respond to evacuation orders, check out this blog post: Why don’t people evacuate?”

What if I can’t leave?

You may not be able to evacuate because you don’t have access to transportation, you are mobility impaired, or you can’t afford to leave. Obviously, officials will try to provide evacuation services where possible.

In Hurricane Sandy, some people with mobility issues were trapped in high-rise buildings when electric elevators no longer worked. Only if friends and neighbors know of disabled neighbors are they likely to be able to help. If you know that evacuation would be impractical or impossible for you, your preparations for sheltering in place need to be more rigorous.

Get more about how to cope with evacuation for people with disabilities here.

Where do I go?

Your city or county will have already identified potential public shelters. Look for a list online or request one from your property manager, local fire department, etc. If an evacuation is called, you will be told where shelters are open and space is available. Don’t head for any shelter until you know it is open!

Interestingly enough, only about 15% of people go to shelters; most evacuate to friends, family or to hotels.

Can I take my pet?

Traditionally pets have not been allowed in Red Cross shelters. People end up leaving their pets at home, or leave them in the car when they have reached the shelter. Obviously, you would want to find a shelter or hotel that is “pet friendly” well in advance of an approaching storm. You can do that research beforehand. As for large animals (horses, etc.), sometimes they can be cared for a facilities such as fair grounds, etc. Check with your vet for resources and further information.

What should I bring?

Your evacuation kit should always be prepared and ready near the exit of your home. You won’t have much room in the car or even in the shelter, but your kit should contain some food and water, medical supplies, prescriptions, sturdy shoes, clothing and blankets. Having an emergency radio and flashlight is smart. Have a list of important emergency contact phone numbers; copy important papers onto an electronic “flash drive” and include it in your kit.

The Emergency Plan Guide comprehensive Checklist has two lists, one for the “Survival Kit” and another for an “Evacuation Kit.” We also have a Pet Emergency Checklist.

Hope this has made you think about how YOU will handle an evacuation order!

Virginia Nicols Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Have you been through an evacuation?  Tell us what happened and what you learned . . .! (If you have a whole story, I’d love to publish you as a guest blogger.  Just let me know.)

Emergency Supplies List

Friday, February 15th, 2013
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If you’re looking for a checklist, you’ll find many, many of them online. FEMA offers up a 26-item list; the American Red Cross has a 36-item list, and different commercial companies (selling tools, pre-made kits, insurance, dried food)  have their own lists, some of which extend to hundreds of items.

Different lists serve different purposes

Comprehensive checklist

Page One of list

Over the years we have created or used different lists for different purposes. For example,

* At an introductory neighborhood meeting, you may wish to distribute a simple, one-page list with items that apply to everyone and that won’t appear too intimidating.

* In a community where people have had some training, a more comprehensive list would be a good idea. (We wrote earlier about the “door-hanger list” that we created for our community.) Naturally, adding items appropriate for the geography would make sense: rain gear, for example, or cold-weather gear.

* In a senior community, a list might focus on items that apply to older people: 14-day supply of medicines (and how to get your doctor to give you extras), extra eyeglasses, batteries for hearing aids, etc.

* A community with pets needs a completely different set of reminders. (You can get a copy of our Emergency Pet Supplies Kit here.)

* A quick reminder card, useful for teaching, might have only a half-dozen items or a specific, focused list of supplies (for example, what you need in your first aid kit).

Our Emergency Supplies List

The Emergency Plan Guide has prepared its own comprehensive list. We have found that breaking it into three sections makes it easier for people to focus on. The three sections are:

 17 basic items for a 3-day emergency

 11 more categories for managing an extended, 14-day emergency

 10 essentials to take if you must evacuate

What’s important is to get your list, and then take the time to see what’s missing from it based on your family’s needs. Add those items to the list, and start assembling!

Like many families, you may need to prepare not only for the three situations listed above, but you may also want to put together specialty kits to carry in your cars, for students away from home, or for the office.

Get started now!

There is no time to assemble emergency supplies after the earthquake, after the storm has hit, after the fire has forced you out of your home.  Action item:  Download the Emergency Supplies Checklist and get started.

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S.  I am not called the “Queen of Lists” for nothing!  Stick around Emergency Plan Guide and you will discover a number of them. Lists help me think, and keep me on track.  I hope you’ll find them useful, too!

 

Emergency Food and Water Supply – An Intro

Friday, June 1st, 2012
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You have numerous choices in putting together an emergency supply of food, water and medicines.  You can purchase kits that include a year or more supply of freeze dried food or even MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).  And this kind of preparation may well fit your plan.  A lot depends on where you are located, the density of population in your “neighborhood,” etc.

Medicines for the family and pets take extra care. 

Medicine supply

Enough to last 10 days?

Of primary importance is your supply of medicines that members of the family (including pets) require.  Making sure that prescriptions are refilled promptly so that you always have at least two weeks worth of them on hand can be life saving.  Some prescriptions are timed to renew closer to the end of the supply so a discussion with your doctor or pharmacist may be necessary.

A realistic food supply. 

Before you go out and spend several hundred dollars on food packets that are likely to sit in a closet or on a storage shelf for months or even years waiting for a cataclysmic event, we suggest that you take a more practical, less expensive route and simply buy extra portions of the canned & packaged goods that you eat regularly and “rotate” their usage so that
you always have items with the longest shelf life on hand. 

Will it need cooking? 

Obviously, if these are to include frozen items, you will want to have an alternate supply of electricity, such as a gas generator available to run periodically.  Likewise, if chosen foods will require cooking, you will need a portable camp stove to use in preparing meals.  What you choose to “stock up on” will depend on your regular eating habits as well as your physical situation. 

Let’s not forget pets.

MREs don’t work too well for them. They are not likely to want to taste “pet MREs” any more than you want to eat human ones.  In fact, pets also may not be prepared to eat ANY new food. Keep that in mind as you pack food supplies for their emergency kits.

How much to store? 

How much of a supply you keep on hand is up to you.  Some foods have a shelf life of more than two years.  Many are best used within six to nine months.  We’re really focused on having a supply to last us for 3 to 10 days.  Anything longer than two or three weeks and we would expect outside help of some kind.  And a case in point – something of an embarrassing admission – we have a ten gallon container of dried foods that we purchased several years ago that is nearing the end of its useful life.  That turns out to be a not-so-good investment.  We’re not likely to replace it. 

If you are a serious and experienced survivalist, you will find these references to emergency food and water mighty simplistic. But if you have just begun to think about pulling together emergency supplies, it can be a start.

You’ll find much more detail on these topics right here in the Advisories. Just head up to the “search” bar at the upper right of this page, type in “water” or “food” or “pets” to get a lot more info!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team