SEATTLE, Wash. -- September is National Preparedness Month, and this year the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is using the calendar observance to focus on changing perceptions about emergency preparedness, and helping Americans understand what it truly means to be Ready. Being Ready is all about taking four simple but all-important steps: get an Emergency Supply Kit; make a Family Emergency Plan; be informed about emergencies and their appropriate responses; and get involved in community preparedness initiatives. According to FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Dennis Hunsinger, the time to make proper provisions for pets is before disaster strikes.
"Including pets, working animals and livestock in disaster planning can be vital to peace of mind and should be part and parcel to basic emergency preparedness," said Hunsinger. "If you must evacuate your home, it's always best to take your pets with you, but plan ahead. Work with your office of emergency management to learn about evacuation policies and pet shelters."
Sound animal disaster preparedness planning should encompass: one week's emergency rations and water; identification tags, leg bands or tattoos; pet first aid kits; and current photos of your animals, filed with your important papers. If you use a 'pet sitter' while on vacation, discuss disaster plans and evacuation sites, and if your regular veterinarian does not have a disaster plan, locate one who does.
Detailed plans for pet and livestock owners are available at www.ready.gov, but basic guidance includes:
- If you must evacuate, take your pets with you. If you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pet.
- Make a backup-up emergency plan in case you can't care for your animals your self. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.
- Ensure that pets and livestock have some form of identification that can facilitate their return.
- Do not corner wild animals or try to rescue them. Call your local animal control office or wildlife resource officer.
- Do not approach wild animals that have taken refuge in your home. Open a wibdow or provide another escape route. Should the animal stay, call your local animal control office or wildlife resource officer.
Free emergency information for pet owners is also available by calling 1-800-BE READY, at FEMA's website at www.fema.gov and FEMA FOR KIDS site: www.fema.gov/kids/petkit.htm. In addition, an instructional video demonstration of how to build a disaster emergency plan is available at: www.ready.gov/america/about/instructional.html.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.