The Ready campaign, initially launched in response to the terrorist attack in 2001 and expanded after Hurricane Katrina, outlines the basic steps to being prepared. It includes information in three categories: Ready America, which is tailored for individuals and families; Ready Business, which is intended for small businesses; and Ready Kids, which contains information on how to talk to kids about emergency preparedness.
Kristen Gossel, the Director of the Ready campaign, spoke to Animal Fair about the campaign and what pet parents can do to prepare for emergencies. She suggests, “Ready America outlines three basic steps to emergency preparedness: First, put a supply kit together – things you will need for basic survival for a few days with no power: water, food, a first-aid kit, battery – operated devices, etc. Second, make a family emergency plan. Discuss with your family what you will do in case of emergency – how will you communicate if you are separated, where will you go, where will you meet, etc. Finally, be informed. Find out what sort of natural disasters can happen in your area – earthquakes, hurricanes, tidal waves, etc. Find out what your local emergency and evacuations plans are in your area? Where are your local shelters?”
Seeing the need to give information to specific segments of society, the Department of Homeland Security expanded their campaign last year to include specific information for seniors, disabled people, and pet parents. To gather information for pet parents, they teamed up with the Humane Society of the United States, the American Kennel Club, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the American Veterinary Medical Association and modified the three steps above to apply specifically to pet parents. Thus, if you are a pet parent, your emergency supply kit should include (in addition to supplies for yourself and your family) food, water, medicines and first-aid supplies for your pet. You should also include spare pet accessories, such as a collar and leash for a dog or cat, and an extra cage for pets such as birds. This kit should be reviewed regularly to ensure that its contents are fresh. Gossel recommends that it be checked at least once a year in order to replace the food and water with fresh supplies. If you are keeping medicine in the kit, check its expiration date. And, of course, if you have a child or a puppy, you should change the contents in the kit as they grow (you don’t want your child’s spare clothes to be too small, and you don’t want your mature dog’s emergency supply of food to be puppy chow).
When you form your emergency plan, keep your pet in mind. Is it okay to take your pet where you’re going? Today, emergency shelters generally allow pets (as they previously did not), but is a shelter the best place for your pet? Will it be feasible to take your pet with you, or would it be better for it to stay with a relative? Make sure you have ID for your pet as well as contact information for vets in your area. When you are researching emergency preparedness for your area and situation, maybe you should learn about first-aid for pets. Try to figure out how your animal might respond to an emergency situation, and prepare for it. Be informed.
For more details and information on preparedness, and to view a list of specific emergencies to be prepared for visit: www.ready.gov.