Flooding at site of 2011 North Branch Cluster

I was pulled away from my computer this morning by a visit from a friend I had not seen in several months. My friend is a very energetic, self-made man, who has started more than one successful business. Among his companies is a substantial tree trimming and removal service grown from his childhood of mowing lawns. As he likes to do while visiting, he walked around my property pointing out the things I have neglected. He returned from his survey with an ominous look on his face. “You have a tree that is going to come down soon and when it does it will take out your power lines and the back of your house” was his grave prediction.

Around these parts, March comes in like a lion, often accompanied by tornadoes. After making hasty arrangements to have the suspect tree removed, I returned to my computer and thought about the status of my disaster preparedness. Now, I was raised on Murphy’s Law, and always assume the worst will happen if I am involved – I never forgave my father for failing to install a fallout shelter in the family home during the Cuban missile crisis. So today, with my very own Ent come alive from Lord of the Rings and threatening to smash my Hobbit home, I began thinking about how prepared I am to evacuate my dogs from the house. Here’s some of the things that are important to think about (our thanks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency).

1. Put together an emergency kit for each of your pets, including:

At least a three-day supply of food, water, & medications.

Keep your registration information & medical records in a safe and easily portable location.

Prepare a first-aid kit designed for your pet. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Include a pet first-aid reference book. Work with your veterinarian to customize it for your pet.

Even if you have your pet microchipped, equip your dog or cat with a collar with ID on it. Not everyone can read a microchip.

Crate or other pet carrier.

Kitty litter and litter box if appropriate, for cats; newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach for your dogs. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (dilute nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to purify water. Use eight drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water, stir well and let it stand for 30 minutes before use. Do not use scented or color-safe bleaches or those with added cleaners.

A picture of you and your pet together: If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.

Favorite toys, treats or bedding will comfort your pet.

You might want to consider two kits: one with everything your pets will need for several days and a second lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you and your pets have to relocate in a hurry.

2. Write down an emergency plan with tasks for each person.

Plan your evacuation. How will you assemble your pets? Where will you go? If you go to a public shelter, keep in mind your pets may not be allowed inside. Put together a list of local motels and hotels that will accept your pets. Consider family or friends outside your immediate area who would be willing to take in you and your pets in an emergency. Other options may include a boarding facility or your vet.

Develop a buddy system. Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure they will help or take over if you are not able. Make sure your pet care buddy knows about your evacuation plans and where everything is.

Partner with your veterinarian about emergency planning. Discuss the types of things you should include in your pet’s emergency first-aid kit. Get the names of vets or veterinary hospitals in other cities where you might need to seek temporary shelter. Talk with your veterinarian about microchipping. If you and your pet are separated, this permanent implant for your pet and corresponding enrollment in a recovery database can help a veterinarian or shelter identify your animal. If your pet is microchipped, keeping your emergency contact information up to date and listed with a reliable recovery database is essential to you and your pet being reunited.

Gather contact information for emergency animal treatment. Keep one copy of these phone numbers with you and one in your pet’s emergency supply kit. Obtain Pets Inside stickers and place them on your doors or windows, including information on the number and types of pets in your home to alert firefighters and rescue workers. Consider putting a phone number on the sticker where you could be reached in an emergency.

3. Be prepared for what might happen.

Stay aware and keep informed. Be prepared to adapt information to your personal circumstances and make every effort to follow instructions received from authorities on the scene. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected. Those who take the time to prepare themselves and their pets will likely encounter less difficulty, stress and worry. Take the time now to get yourself and your pet ready.

One final word about all the above. Don’t assume you will have access to all of your technology. Don’t put all your contact information on your smart phone. I like to print up all the important stuff on a regular basis and have it laminated. Hopefully all this planning will give you some peace of mind. And that’s today’s Back Story.