Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pet Safety During Disasters

I heard a humbling fact on Minnesota Public Radio this morning, that in just the last month we've had more than twice as many severe weather observances than we had for the entire season last year. If you live in the Twin Cities, you've heard the tornado sirens and you've seen the lightning, hail and pounding rain but do you really know what to do in an emergency evacuation situation? Where do you go? What do you need to do to keep your pets safe?

On July 15th, the American Red Cross observed the Third Annual National Pet Fire Safety Day. There are several things you can do to help keep your pet safe in the event of a fire or other emergency. With just a little bit of time and research, you can prepare your family and your pet in the unlikely event of an emergency situation.

1) Evacuate your pet and find a safe place for them to stay.

Red Cross shelters do not allow pets unless they are service animals so it's important to understand your options in advance of a disaster so you and your pet are not stranded during an emergency.

Research hotels/motels in your region (outside your local area) to determine which are pet-friendly.

Ask friends and family if they would be willing to house your pet during an emergency situation.

Make a list of vet offices and boarding facilities in your area that will act during emergencies. Keep a list of their 24-hour emergency phone numbers.

Last month, we blogged about Pet Haven's participation in a community Animal Sheltering experience in Richfield where the MN Animal Disaster Coalition (MNADC) coordinated a joint human/animal emergency response effort to shelter pets and humans during a drill. Check out Minnesota Animal Control Disaster Coalition for more information on options that may be available to you in Minnesota.

2.) Assemble a portable pet supplies kit that can support your pet for up to a week.

Include your pet's medications and medical records, photos of your pet in case they get lost, food, water bowls, clean water, a blanket, toys and info sheet on your pet.

3.) Keep your pets from starting fires in your home.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 1,000 house fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners' pets. The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services have joined forces to provide the following tips.

Extinguish open flames - Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.

Remove stove knobs - Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house - a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.

Invest in flameless candles. These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.

Keep pets near entrances when away from home. Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet. When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.

Secure young pets; keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.

Affix a pet alert window cling and write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. Make sure to keep the number of pets listed on them updated.

You never know when disaster may strike but there are easy steps you can take now to help alleviate some of the stress and panic that can occur during an emergency.
Plan ahead....your pet will thank you for it!!!

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