You never know when an emergency will hit, and when it does, make sure every member of your family is prepared - even your pets.
Ottawa is no stranger to all types of adverse weather. Between hail, lightning, windstorms, floods, tornados, ice storms and even the after-effects of hurricanes and tropical storms; we really have seen it all. And that’s all the more reason to be prepared for any type of emergency that may cause power outages or even evacuations.
We’ve long been proponents of being properly prepared for any type of emergency. The small amount of time and minimal cost associated with gathering an emergency kit is well worth it compared to the risk of being caught unprepared and unable to get through a potential 72-hour power outage. You should also have a plan for emergencies that account for every member of your family, and each person should know what to do.
Anyone who owns a pet knows that they are a member of the family - so naturally our emergency plans and kits should take them into account too. Take some time this fall to prepare your pets for an emergency and ensure they too are covered with the contents of your emergency kit.
Plan it out
The first step is to make a plan. Think of every type of emergency you can and write down the role of each family member if it were to happen. Jot down different scenarios too - if the kids are at school, if one partner is away, etc. If you need to quickly leave the house, determine which roles each person will take. If you have a dog at home, who will grab their leash and lead them to safety? Is your dog nervous and may need coaxing? Be sure to pair them with someone who can handle them.
Cats, rabbits, hamsters, reptiles and other small pets are a bit more complicated, but that’s why it’s important to create a plan in the first place. Any pet that lives in a cage can be transported to safety in their cage, as long as the cage can be carried. As long as time permits, cats are best off in a carrier - so make sure the person responsible for a cat knows where to find their carrier, and store it somewhere that is easy to access.
In a scenario where you need to leave your home, it will be handy to have a contact list for friends and family who could possibly take your pet, pet-friendly hotels (if you too can’t stay in your home) and pet-boarding facilities.
And lastly, if you have multiple pets, it may be best to assign each pet to their own person. Once your plan is complete, sit down with your family and talk through the plan so everyone is aware and can ask questions.
Make them a kit
We should all have emergency kits at home with contents such as food and water, flashlights, first aid kits, etc. to cover all members of the family for at least 72 hours. After your family members are all taken care of, think about what you can add to your kit for your four-legged friends. Consider adding:
- Small bags or spare cans of your pet’s favorite food (don’t forget a manual can opener)
- Extra drinking water
- Spare collar/harness and leash
- Food and water bowls
- Pet first aid kit
- Your pet’s medications
- Small bags of litter and a litter box for cats (Tip: store your kit in a shallow bin with a lid, which can turn into the litter box if needed)
- Blankets, towels and toys
- Shampoo, brushes and other grooming tools
- Copies of handy documents including proof of ownership and vaccinations records
Keep them calm
Sometimes our pets get anxious in situations where we know they are not in harm’s way. For example, they may cower and hide from the booming sounds of thunderstorms, while we know that they are perfectly safe indoors. In any type of situation, keep them as calm as you can by talking to them, petting them, and making them as comfortable as possible. For overly anxious pets you might consider talking to your vet for options.
Once your pet emergency kit and preparedness plan is complete, you can rest assured knowing that every last member of your family will be safe and accounted for in the event of an emergency.