Wildfires are becoming increasingly common in many areas. They are a terrifying experience for both humans and pets, but a little careful preparation can help make evacuation, if necessary, go smoothly. While most people give plenty of thought to their own evacuation plans, they sometimes fail to think about necessities for evacuating their pets from a wildfire.
Here are some tips that will help to keep everyone safe in the event of a wildfire in your area
Scope Out Evacuation Routes
Try to ensure that you have at least two safe evacuation routes available to you. Wildfires move very quickly, so having an alternative way to escape from the affected area is imperative.
Crate Train Your Pets
If you have to evacuate it is highly likely that your pets will have to spend considerable amounts of time in crates. If they are already familiar with a portable kennel and are comfortable in them, it will help calm them and make them feel safe. Additionally, it will keep them secure in your vehicle. Pets are very sensitive to any fire within their sensory range and may try to flee. If there is a wildfire heading in your direction be sure to bring your pets inside or kennel them to ensure their safety. It’s also a good idea to cover crates/kennels with a light cloth, such as a bed sheet, to minimize their fear.
If you even think you may have to evacuate it’s a good idea to have crates loaded in your vehicle in order to facilitate a quick exit. When loading your pets make sure to have a leash on them before leaving the house. If they are off-leash they may panic and run away.
Pack for Your Pets as Well as Yourself
Pets need Grab ‘n Go packs, just like you. At the beginning of fire season assemble a waterproof plastic container that is large enough to store the following items:
1. Feed dishes and water buckets
Small stainless buckets can be attached to the inside of crates with a double-headed snap to ensure that your pets don’t become dehydrated.
If any of your pets are on medications, be sure to pack some spare so that you aren’t scrambling around your house trying to collect everything up. Ensure that the medication bottles are clearly labeled with the pet’s name and dosing instructions.
3. Contact Information
Print out a sheet with contact information for your veterinarian and other important phone numbers.
Include a current photo of each pet, breed registration, identification papers, proof of ownership, vaccination and health records and any bills of sale. If you have pet health insurance, be sure to include the details of your policy. Pack all paper-based information in a sealed zip-lock bag in order to avoid losing anything.
Ensure That Your Pets Have Proper ID
Make sure that each of your pets wears a collar with current identification: pet’s name, owner’s name and phone number, and alternate phone number for a friend or relative in case you can’t be contacted. Also attach your pet’s rabies tag to the collar.
If your pet is microchipped, make sure that all the information on file for the chip is up to date.
Pack Food and Water for Each Pet
Ensure that you have enough food and water for 3-7 days for each pet. It’s a good idea to have these items packed and ready to go as an emergency supply.
If you feed raw, consider the implications of trying to store a week’s worth of raw food when you may well be without refrigeration or access to a grocery store. Many raw feeders choose a high-quality kibble as a backup, feeding it occasionally to ensure that their pet(s) will be able to handle the change if necessary. If kibble is absolutely not an option for you be prepared with extra food coolers and ice blocks.
Where Will Your Pet be Accommodated?
The large majority of emergency shelters for humans do not take in pets when there are evacuation situations. Sometimes emergency shelters for pets are also available, but it is worth consulting with family and friends to see if they would be willing to take your animals in on a temporary basis if you are evacuated and unable to keep them with you. It’s also a good idea to have a friend you trust (preferably a neighbour) come over and be introduced to your pets before an emergency happens. Keep a list of pet-friendly hotel chains, if that is an option for you.
Include Comfort-Giving Items
Our pets don’t understand what is going on in the panic of wildfire evacuations, so it’s a good idea to put in some items that will give them some comfort in unnerving situations. Include familiar blankets or beds, treats and toys in your evacuation kit. It’s also a good idea to put in old items of clothing that you have worn and that have your scent on them. This will help to reassure your pets that they have not been abandoned by you, even if you are separated.
A little careful advance planning can go a long way to ensuring that you and your pets end up safe and sound in wildfire situations. Take the time now to make the effort and take comfort in the knowledge that you are ready if disaster strikes.
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