Ask Nancy: Are You Ready?

t’s been another winter and this year another storm hit where many lost their power for days or had damaged homes. Here, we have had the electrical work done and invested in a generator, and stored gasoline, so we can have heat and light and running (although cold) water but many here in NH and elsewhere are not quite that prepared.

So are you ready if something happens, if you need to leave your home, if you have to care for your pets without that all essential power? Do you have a place to go? Do you have a ‘go kit’ or know what you would need to take if you had to evacuate your pets as well as yourself? Will your vehicle(s) hold all your pets and human family too?

This site has info on making a ‘go kit’ for your human family members

http://eic.rrc.dc.gov/eic/cwp/view.asp?a=1272&q=568088&cat=3

But what about your pets what will you need for them?

Critical for any pet would be a supply of food, safe drinking water, a way to confine the pet safely, and any meds your particular pets may need.

Food needs to be enough for 5-7 days feeding. If it’s canned food then pop tops work out great but having a non electric can opener along can be a big help. For dry food, having a water proof container for it may be important. A big trash bag can work, or a plastic bin with a secure top that fits easily in your vehicle. One advantage of a bin is if the dogs are loose in the car they will be less likely to get into the food. If you keep food ready to go, I’d suggest swapping it out at least every couple of months. It may be easiest to just get in the routine of replacing it and using the old food up every time you buy a fresh supply. Don’t forget dishes and also a spoon or two if you feed canned food!

You would want a seven day supply of water and you should replace it at least every two months so it will be fresh. The inexpensive camping water jugs can work great, if you can lift them when full, and some come with convenient dispensing taps. Store those where they will not freeze in winter as freezing can cause leaks in the container.

You may want a first aid and care book. For dogs I recommend a copy of one of the many editions of the Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook by Delbert G. Carlson, DVM, James M. Giffin, MD. Indulge yourself in the latest edition and put your old copy in a go kit!

For cats the similar Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook by Delbert G. Carlson, D.V.M, James M. Griffin, D.V.M. & Lisa Carlson, D.V.M or The Cornell Book of Cats: A Comprehensive and Authoritative Medical Reference for Every Cat and Kitten edited by Mordecai Siegal might be good choices.

A copy of your pet’s medical records in a water proof container (zip lock type baggies can work great).

Check to see if your town’s shelters accept pets or have a space prepared for evacuation of animals.

A small supply of over the counter medical items may be needed. Simethicone for dogs prone to bloat for example might be handy in stress situations.

Clean up materials are a good choice to have on hand. Paper towels, plastic bags, a bottle of deodorizing cleaning product and possibly a disinfectant can make sharing close quarters easier.

Scoopable type cat litter for cats and either reusable or disposable litter pans, foil turkey roasting pans can work well as short term or disposable litter boxes.

Feliway spray for cats can work to reduce their stress in unfamiliar situations and could be useful to spray inside of carriers to keep the cats calmer.

A travel bag or crate for each animal and for those who have them on hand an x-pen preferably with a lid (in scary situations the safer the confinement the better). A flashlight so you can check on your animal inside the travel container and a big towel, blanket or cloth to throw over the crate to help reduce pet stress can be handy. That towel etc. can also be useful to scoop up a scared pet if you need to.

Spare harness, leashes, collars to control your pets if they have to come out of their travel crate or bag. A long line for exercise might be useful. A harness for both cats and dogs may be safer than a collar but you must be sure to have ones that fit and that your pet cannot wiggle out of when confined in a strange situation.

Just in case, good clear, photocopy suitable pictures of each pet, again in a water proof container, will help you make up lost posters if you get separated from a pet or need to prove ownership.

Dogs and cats may both appreciate familiar items such as toys, chew items, catnip, and bedding. Having at least one bedding change for a travel case or crate can make the confinement more pleasant for all.

You may think of more things your special pets will need if you have to suddenly leave your home and the key is thinking about it ahead of time for your pets as well as yourself.

With the cold New England winters one of my stay at home emergency preparations for years was to make sure I had plenty of warm animal bedding to line crates and a sweater for every animal, including the cats, just in case we had no heat and we all needed to bundle up! We also have plans in place in case the trees take down fencing as they so often do.

Last, but not least, make sure you have some plans on where to go that you can take your pets as well as your human family.

Check to see if your town’s shelters accept pets or have a space prepared for evacuation of animals. If they don’t you might want to consider working with the local disaster team to make sure there is one for everyone!

Find out what hotels that accept pets, kennels or other accommodations might be available outside your general area. See if you can network with friends to share offers of housing during a disaster.

Planning ahead, even if its just the creation of a checklist on what to take if you have to go, can be a big help if you do have to leave your home in an emergency.

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