|We all know there is really no good excuse not to be ready, but honestly, putting a disaster-preparedness kit together can be an intimidating and seemingly daunting task. Last year, after reading the article in the New Yorker about "The Really Big One", I finally got scared enough that I started putting a plan together. Keep in mind, your kit is a living thing and needs to be replenished as goods and medicines expire. And the kit doesn't have to be immediately perfect, you can add to it as time and money allows.
A basic pet disaster kit should include:
- Water and food for at least five days (ideally two weeks) per pet, bowls and a manual can opener. If you have a garden, keeping a couple rain barrels full of water at all times can be an excellent water source and avoids having to buy and replace bottled water. You will need a water filter (the back-packing kind) to make sure nobody gets sick from drinking the rain barrel water. If your pet is on a raw meat diet, stock up on freeze-dried or dehydrated raw foods. Remember, most pets can eat human food, so you could potentially share your emergency food with them, as long as it is not spicy or contains ingredients toxic to pets. I stock canned dog food in my emergency kits and when the expiration date nears and I need to restock the supply, I either add it to the home-made diet I feed or I donate it to a local shelter.
- Medications and medical records stored in waterproof containers. Ask your veterinarian for an extra month supply of medications, herbs, supplements for your disaster kit and remember to use it up and replace it before it expires. Keep in mind, many drugs and herbs still work past their expiration date, and homeopathic remedies never expire..
- First aid supplies, including bandages, tape, sterile gauze, wound salve, alcohol pads, and homeopathic remedies such as arnica. Ask your veterinarian if they will sell you these supplies.
- Written information about your pets' feeding schedules, behaviors, and medical conditions along with the name and number of your veterinarian
- Cat litter, litter box, litter scoop, garbage bags, poop bags to collect your pets' waste
- Harnesses, leashes, pet carriers so you can transport your pets safely. It's a good idea to crate-train your pets so they are used to it and you can quickly put them in a carrier without stressing them out further. If you are evacuating to a shelter, remember that your pets will likely have to live in the carrier/crate for the duration of the stay. Blankets and towels are also a good idea to include.
- Identification, current photos and descriptions of your pets, in case you and your pets get separated. If your pet does not have a microchip yet - consider having one implanted as tags and collars may get lost.
Share your emergency plan with a friend or neighbor in case you can't get home for some time and you need someone to take care of your animals. In a disaster, it is often easier to make out-of-state calls than to get through locally. Make sure you have a designated out-of-state contact written down and registered with your pets' microchip hotline who can help connect you with your pets (and other family members), if you get separated.