Category: Pets

Evacuate with your pet

If you had to evacuate with your pets, could you take all of them?

Over the past several weeks my neighbors and I have been caught up in the aftermath of our “almost evacuation.” (The next zone to evacuate was across the street, and we were just waiting for the police call.)

While I was fighting gusty winds and dust to get my own stuff packed up, I was particularly conscious of all my neighbors who have pets. In our senior community, pets are small. But many dogs are astonishingly aggressive. Few dogs and certainly no cats have any obvious obedience training. Many don’t seem to like a leash.

How would these pets and their owners fare in an evacuation?

Well, the threat never materialized for us. We were lucky. But as our neighborhood emergency response group continues to examine what should have gone better, pets take their place among the concerns at the top of the list. So today, let’s take a closer look at how to evacuate with your pet!

As it turns out, over this very same period I was putting finishing touches on the last book in our Mini-Series – entitled Protect Your Pet. Our booklet goes through fully a dozen situations that help define what it takes to be a responsible and loving pet owner. Throughout, it focuses on what really happens to pets in emergencies.

Emergency Preparedness Q&A Mini-Series - Protect Your Pet

If you aren’t confident you’ve thought it all through, grab a copy of the book! You’ll feel a whole lot better once you’ve answered the dozen or so questions that it contains! They cover how to evacuate with your pet, but also how to cope with everyday emergencies, pet first aid, lost pets, etc. Every pet owner needs this information.

As far as this Advisory goes, though, I’d like to focus on just two things.

1- Does your pet have what it needs to evacuate with you or with someone else’s help?

A pet go-bag.

Just as you need a custom go-bag for yourself, each of your pets needs one too. It contains basic food supplies, water, a dish, medicines and identification. Yes, the pet go-bag can contain a lot more, but these are the absolute essentials. (We have a whole chapter on pet survival kits in the Mini-book.) The go-bag accompanies your pet and . . .

Your pet’s travel carrier.

One of my neighbors contemplating being bussed to a shelter said, “Oh, I’ll just take my cat with me, on her leash.”

Here’s the problem with that. Vehicles sent to pick up senior evacuees can’t manage loose animals! Can you imagine being on a crowded bus with a dozen or so pets pulling, twisting, climbing, barking, etc.?  

To be confident your pet will be allowed to accompany you, and to be sure it will be safe during the trip, it needs its own familiar and comfortable carrier. And you need to be able to manage that carrier yourself or have arranged with a partner to help.

There are hundreds of pet carriers on the market. If you don’t have a carrier for each of your pets, you really need to consider getting one. Here are some things to look for:

  • Size. Is the carrier the right size for the pet? Some pets will feel comforted by a snug, closely fitting carrier, but most will want to be able to turn around and lie down. (Some carriers even have expandable sides to add extra room.) Before you start your search, measure your pet’s shoulder height and length in addition to knowing its weight. (Remember, only one pet to a carrier.)
  • Weight. Some fabric carriers weigh less than 3 lbs; hard-sided plastic crates can easily weigh as much as 10 lbs. Add the weight of your pet. Remember, you will be carrying this! (You’ll see one option below that doesn’t require too much carrying!)
  • Balance. A child strapped to your chest is easy to manage. So is a pet – and yes, there are chest pet carriers! But a small pet in a large backpack with a solid bottom may move around so much that you find it hard to walk safely. Moreover, while a pet may ride happily in a backpack, it can’t be left on the floor inside that soft-sided pack. Think about where you might be going and how you’ll carry your pet.
  • Airline approved. If you think you might be flying with your pet, check now to find out the size and weight limitations placed on travelers by the airlines. In-cabin pet travelers must stay in their carrier the entire time, and that carrier must fit under the seat in front of you. Caution: Not all airlines have the same restrictions! 

Below you’ll find some examples of carriers. But first,

2- Does your pet know HOW to evacuate?

Every dog we’ve had has loved “taking a ride.” From what I hear, though, other animals absolutely HATE it! Some like to be able to see out, some cower under a blanket. Some pets welcome being in a crowd of strangers, others get aggressive or frightened.

If you want your pet (and yourself) to make it through the stress of evacuation travel and perhaps prolonged confinement, you need to train your pet HOW to evacuate! This involves obedience training and crate training. We offer suggestions in the booklet. Suffice it to say for this Advisory that as a beloved member of your family, your pet deserves these trainings!

Now, some examples of carriers and crates to help you evacuate with your pet — safely and comfortably.

Click on the links beneath the images to get to Amazon where you can get full details and prices, and compare with other similar styles. As you know, we are Amazon Associates and may get a small commission if you buy through our links.

Rolling Pet Carrier. I would choose this carrier immediately for one reason – I wouldn’t have to carry it! The telescoping handle doesn’t take up much room but would make walking through airports or bus stations or a high school gym shelter a whole lot easier. This carrier also includes washable mattresses to keep it clean and comfy for your pet.

There are other rolling carriers, of course. It looks to me as though the simple ones with just two wheels won’t stand up by themselves if you need to have both hands free for a moment.  

Comes in various sizes and colors. Click below to get to more details.
Katziela Pet Carrier with Removable Wheels – Soft Sided, Airline Approved Small Dog and Cat Carrying Bag with Telescopic Walking Handle, Mesh Ventilation Windows and Safety Leash Hook (Black)

Something a bit more fashionable!

This classic bag from well-known manufacturer Sherpa looks very secure and comfortable, even stylish, with quilted sides and flexible leather handles (and additional carrying strap). It has side plus top entry – absolutely something I’d want.  Flexible frame helps bag keep its shape, adjusts to fit under an airline seat.   

Sherpa Original Deluxe Charcoal and Camel Pet Carrier, Large, Gray

Yes, a hands-free pet carrying sling!

I carried my baby boy with a sling – so convenient! This one for pets comes in a variety of colors, three sizes to fit pets up to 14 lbs. Obviously, your pet can’t stay in the sling in an emergency shelter, but this would be excellent for quickly getting out of an emergency situation.

YUDODO Pet Dog Sling Carrier Breathable Mesh Travel Safe Sling Bag Carrier for Dogs Cats (S up to 5lbs Pink)

Very basic folding crate.

Mesh all around for plenty of visibility – and so you can see instantly how your fur-baby is doing. Removable stiff floor; plush blanket included. This one comes from the Amazon Basics collection.

AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Travel Carrier, Medium (17 x 10 x 10 Inches), Black

Portable dog house!

During the recent evacuation members of our family had to remove by car to a hotel with their LARGE dog. He traveled with his wire crate. Something like this soft-sided crate might have been far more convenient and comfortable. (And would look a lot nicer as a piece of furniture in the house while he’s getting crate trained.)

EliteField 3-Door Folding Soft Dog Crate, Indoor & Outdoor Pet Home, Multiple Sizes and Colors Available (36″ L x 24″ W x 28″ H, Navy Blue)

One last thought about evacuating with your pet.

In reviewing articles and comments about pet owners and their experiences with carriers, it seems that some pets are simply determined to escape. They claw, chew, scratch, pull and twist until they are FREE! So keep pet and carrier under close watch until you are sure everything is secure!

Do you have experience evacuating with a pet? Share your story below in the comments. Everyone will appreciate it!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

Prepare Your Pet for an Emergency


Pet in emergency

Last night our neighborhood response group hosted a special presentation from a local non-profit, SoCal Animal Response Team. The group’s mission is to help animals in disasters and to educate owners to have a pet emergency preparedness plan.

They stress preparing yourself but also how to prepare your pet to come safely through an emergency!

Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare your pet for an emergency.

Everyday emergencies can keep you from getting home to your pet.

Even on a regular day, there are a lot of reasons why you might not make it home to your pet . . .

  • There’s a broken pipe at work and you have to stay to help clean up.
  • You get in a traffic accident on the way home and end up in the hospital.
  • A gas leak threatens your home neighborhood and you are trapped OUTSIDE the safety perimeter. No one is allowed in.

OK, so this emergency lasts all day and all night and well into the next day. In the meanwhile, what is going on with your small house pet?

Baby is wandering around in the dark, no lights, no heating. Baby finished off food and water a long time ago. Time to pee – where to go?  Time to poop – no one to take Baby for a walk! Baby whines, whimpers, howls and then gets mad and tears into a few pieces of furniture and starts destroying them.

You get the idea!

Prepare your pet with a Pet Buddy.

This is a friend or neighbor, someone who . . .

  • Knows you have a pet and notices you don’t get home as usual.
  • Knows and likes the pet, and the pet knows the Buddy.
  • Has a key to your house, knows where food, leashes, and pet medicines are kept.
  • Would be willing and able to get your cat into a pillowcase and thus into the carrier.
  • Has been authorized to take your pet to the vet for medical care if the pet gets injured. (Probably the vet will require a signed release for this.)

Being a Buddy is a big responsibility. But if you don’t find and train that Buddy, you could arrive home to a sick and hostile pet and a wrecked and reeking house.

Action item: Plan a meeting of a few neighbors (with pets) to see if you can come up with some Buddy pairs. Everyone’s pet will be safer and you will all feel better!

Prepare your pet for immediate evacuation!

Some emergencies hit without warning, but in many cases you will have some time to get packed up and into the car and headed for safety.

If you have 15 minutes, you will not have time to run through the house to grab everything you need, much less what your pet will need.

Heck, in 15 stressful minutes you may not even be able to find your pet! (Our speakers told horror stories of pets crawling into unreachable spaces.)

The plan for bigger emergencies:

  • Have your pet’s emergency kit already packed and sitting right there next to your own survival kit. (Need a reminder of what all should/could go into that kit? Here’s our recommended supplies list.)
  • Know where your pet is likely to hide and have a good way to call it to come out – for example, shake the food bag!
  • Keep important ID papers in a waterproof container (folder), along with the pet carrier. (See list of important pet papers here.)

If you are directed to a shelter, keep in mind that no matter what the law says, not all shelters will accept pets. If you’ve done your homework, you will already have a list of “pet friendly” hotels or kennels in the region. Clearly, if the disaster is widespread, these facilities will fill up fast. If you can, evacuate early to have the best chance of finding shelter for your pet.

Two-week plan for managing your pet after the hurricane, earthquake, etc.

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all for disaster response. Your home could be fine, but the power is out. Your home could be partially damaged, or cut off by floods, snowed in roads, etc.

To prepare your pet for a two-week emergency, at a minimum you’ll need food, water and medicines not just for yourself but also for your pet. How much will depend mainly on the size of your pet. Of course, you’ll need warmth, light, etc.

In addition, our speakers gave us important reminders about what we might watch out for in the way of expected pet behavior in an extended emergency situation.

If your home is damaged, your animal will be disoriented, just like you are. Long-standing pet “markings” (with urine) may have disappeared or moved so your pet won’t recognize his or her territory.

Remember – your house pet is likely so domesticated it cannot protect or defend itself from danger. You have chosen your pet to be your companion. Now it’s your job to be your pet’s protector.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Inside, keep the pet in a bathroom. Safe, able to be closed up and cleaned up, no place for pet to hide.
  • If you go outside, keep the pet closely leashed to protect it from injury or from being attacked by other animals. If there is debris — broken wood, broken glass — make sure your pet is wearing booties.
  • If you’re in a group setting, you may need to muzzle your dog to be sure it doesn’t injure other people or animals. (If your dog is injured, it may bite YOU. Muzzle it.) Your cat can’t be muzzled, but injuries caused by a cat’s scratches or bites are particularly dangerous. Our speaker said that anytime their workers are bit or scratched they go immediately to the emergency room! Control your cat.
  • If your pet does escape, a couple of things can happen very quickly. First, your small pet is likely to become a victim of other hungry animals. Second, it may take only a few days for it to “revert to wild.” If you see the pet again later, it may not recognize you, may react aggressively, and may have become part of a dangerous pack of other animals. Approach with extreme caution.

Action items to prepare your pet to make it through an emergency

1-Have a pet emergency kit packed and ready to go. Include items you might not normally need, such as booties or muzzles.

2-Build and maintain a list of pet-friendly hotels and kennels – not just in your own town but wider afield in case you need to evacuate some distance away.

3-Update important identification papers for your pet, including medical information and photos.

4-Familiarize your pet with its carrying container. (Many animals find their cages/containers a very comforting place to sleep in, particularly when they have a favorite blanket or piece of your clothing.)

5-Plan a way to help organize neighborhood Pet Buddies.

Clearly, this Advisory does not cover the whole picture. But it’s a start –  with more to come! Please share with others who have house pets – and that probably means over half of your neighbors!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. Knowing your neighbors’ pets is important. If the pets are always in the house, you may not realize just how many of them there are, or what KIND there are, until the walls fall down!

Lists for Active Preppers and Leaders


The Good Stuff from CERT and NERT

Big FlashlightOver the years Joe and I have been involved in both CERT and NERT training. CERT is Community Emergency Response Team training, a course and refreshers offered by our city. NERT is our informal Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, with its own unofficial and customized training.

At both CERT and NERT get-togethers we end up sharing ideas for useful supplies and gear, and, of course, ideas for how to stay on track.  We’ve documented many of these conversations and trainings in the over 200 Advisories here at Emergency Plan Guide.

Since I have been getting requests for one list or another, I thought I’d just bundle a few of them together in one place for easy reference. So . . .

Here are 7 popular lists for individual and family survival kits.

They should all sound familiar to you!

(Follow the links to get to each Advisory.)

Lists of meeting agenda ideas for group leaders.

If you are looking for ideas for a meeting agenda, just grab one of the Advisories above and use it to stage a “show and tell.” You can bring your own kit and get group members to bring theirs. Always a success!

And don’t forget, we’ve gathered up a collection of something like 50 meeting agenda ideas pulled from all the meetings we’ve held over the years. Here’s the link to the page where you can download them immediately. (And yes, we do charge a little for the books. It helps us continue to buy and share emergency items with our team!)

Three more lists, specifically for Neighborhood Teams’ “Block Captains.”

No matter how your neighborhood group is set up, at the very ground level you’ll have a number of people who have agreed to get to know their “block” of neighbors (a block could be a building, a floor, a department, or actually a block), to check in with them in an emergency, and report on their condition to the designated leader.

We find that Block Captains are the heart of our neighborhood group, so we encourage their active participation by making sure they get their own specialized resources.

1-Block Captain Supplies for CERT graduates

Have you taken the formal CERT training? If so, then you already have received a first set of supplies. For example, our local CERT graduates come away with:

  • A vest with reflective stripes
  • Duffle bag
  • Helmet
  • Flashlight
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Gloves

(Other CERT programs supply their members with different items. The list above is from our local program, only. actually offers a variety of CERT kits starting at around $50 and going up from there. Take a look at all the gear included in these kits to see what you might want to include in yours.)

By the time the class is over, most of our CERT members have added to their bags – first aid items, a few tools, duct and making tape, pens and tablets to write on, headlamps, etc. The duffle bag can get very heavy very quickly; most people keep them in their cars.

2-Block Captain Under-the-Bed Kit

As far as local Block Captain duties are concerned, we have been able to outfit our captains – whether or not they are CERT graduates – with just a few essential items:

  • A reflective vest
  • Walkie-talkie and extra batteries
  • Clipboard, tablet and pen for taking notes
  • Flashlight
  • Whistle
  • A reminder checklist of what to do in an emergency

You can get a Block Captain outfitted with the above items for less than $30. (Most expensive item is the Walkie-talkie/hand-held radio at around $15.) Buying items in bulk can reduce that cost.

And we truly call this the “under the bed” kit. (As I’ve mentioned before, we recommend that all our Block Captains also store shoes under the bed. If something happens, we want to be able to jump into action – safely!)

3-Block Captain Step-by-Step Checklist

Block Captain ChecklistOur NERT volunteers carry a quick reminder checklist of their primary duty when the community is hit by an emergency. It’s a card similar to the one to the left.

As you can see, this card assumes that the community has already been organized into Divisions; everyone has a walkie-talkie and understands the way channels have been assigned. Your own checklist needs to reflect the vocabulary and set-up of your organization.

In any case, the list needs to be SIMPLE and HANDY. You might consider laminating it to give it a bit more heft.

When we bring a new member aboard, we present him/her with some items at the orientation, and then present the rest when the new Block Captain is introduced to the group. People like to be recognized – and this is an important role they are going to be playing!

And we find that getting free “gear” encourages other people to join in.

What lists or checklists have you found to be helpful as you manage your own preparedness? And do you have suggestions for helping a group get formed and stay interested?  Pass ’em along!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

Will Your Pet Survive an Emergency?


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!

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


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.

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


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.

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team


Pack Your Survival Kit for Evacuation


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?!

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!


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


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.

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


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!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team