September has been designated as National Preparedness Month by the Department of Homeland Security.
With the hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods and international incidents we hear about on the media, it's time to get proactive about planning for an emergency.
If you share your life with an animal, you need to include them in your family plan. Ready.Gov notes, "The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or terrorist attack depends largely on emergency planning done today."
The disaster plan suggested by the Humane Society of the United States prepares us to protect our animals during disasters that come with some warning, like floods, wildfires or hurricanes, and those that strike suddenly, such as tornadoes or chemical spills.
The first step of the HSUS plan is to start getting ready now.
• ID your pet. Start by making sure your dog or cat is wearing a collar with visible, up-to-date identification information. Put your cellphone number on your pet's tag, and maybe even the phone number of a friend or relative outside the area in case you have to evacuate. Take pictures of you with your pet for identification purposes. Increase your chances of being reunited with your pet if he gets lost by getting him microchipped.
• Talk to your neighbors about how they can help your pets if you are not at home when disaster strikes.
• Create a list of hotels outside your immediate area that allow pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size and species. Inquire if the "no pet" policies would be waived in an emergency.
Put together your disaster kit. Every family member should know what to do and what to take should you need to evacuate. The HSUS advises, "Be prepared to take pets with you if evacuation orders are issued. If it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for them. If you are ordered to shelter in place, bring your pets inside with you."
Supplies for your family will include supplies for your pet. The HSUS states, "Stock up on nonperishables well ahead of time and have everything ready to go at a moment's notice. Keep everything accessible and stored in sturdy containers (duffel bags, covered trash containers) that can be carried easily."
The basic disaster kit should include:
• Food and water for at least five days for each pet, bowls for food and water, and a manual can opener for canned food. Dry pet food should be kept in air tight containers and refreshed every 6 months.
• Medications and medical records in a waterproof container, a pet first aid kit and a pet first aid book.
• Sturdy leashes, harnesses.
• Carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure your pets can't escape. Carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down and to use as a sleeping area.
• Litter boxes, scoops and garbage bags for pets' waste.
• Comfort items like beds or toys.
For information on preparedness plans for our pets, go to humanesociety.org/prepare. You may even want to take the HSUS website Disaster Preparedness Quiz.
You know, we really should be prepared.
• Contact The Buddy Foundation at (847) 290-5806; visit us at 65 W. Seegers Road, Arlington Heights; or online at thebuddyfoundation.org.