If you have to leave home suddenly, collect your wits and your pets. The behaviour of pets may change dramatically after an earthquake or other disaster. Normally quiet and friendly cats and dogs may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. If your animals are outdoors, bring them inside (place a leash on dogs). Your pet is very attuned to your emotional state. Try to keep your cool so your pets don't panic. Speak firmly but calmly. Once they are in the house, you may want to place them in a separate room or in carriers so they don't become panicked by all the activity.
If you are being directed to an emergency shelter, note that your pets may not be allowed into these shelters for health and space reasons. In this case, prepare an emergency pen for pets in your home that includes at least a three-day supply of dry food and a large container of water.
If you cannot locate your animals and have to go, leave as much water and food inside or outside for them as possible. (It is a good idea to have a feeder and waterer on hand that will last for several days or more.) Also place a sign on your door, in case emergency workers in the area find your pet. Include an address and phone number that will be available, for example, that of a close relative or friend.
If you're prepared, you can load your short-term (three days or more) emergency store into your car, load the pets, and go within minutes.
Don't Leave Home without It: Disaster Pet Supply Kit
In an emergency, there's no time to gather food from the kitchen, fill bottles with water, grab a first-aid kit from the closet and snatch a flashlight and a portable radio from the bedroom. You need to have these items packed and ready in one place before disaster hits.
Pack at least a three-day supply of food and water for yourself and your animals, and store it in a handy place. Choose pet foods that are easy to carry, nutritious, and ready-to-eat. In addition, pack these emergency items for your pets:
Your kit should contain at least a three-day supply of any medications your pet normally takes. Moggies recommend the following items:
It is very important that your pets can be identified in case you are separated from them. Make sure cats and dogs have a collar with identification tag, even if they have had a chip implant. (In an emergency, scanning devices may not be available.)
Also be sure to put an ID tag on your pet carriers. Include emergency contact numbers as well as your own.
Another good idea is to place pet emergency stickers on your windows at home, to notify emergency crews that you have pets inside that should be rescued. These are available at many pet stores.
Traveling with Pets
Always place cats in a carrier when traveling, even short distances. You may want to place your dogs in carriers as well. You can give them a few drops of Rescue Remedy (a natural herbal combination that calms nerves) before you leave.
Be sure your pets are wearing their collars and ID tags and that their carriers have ID tags as well with emergency contact numbers.
If your pets will travel in a carrier, it is a good idea to have a water container inside the container with a small amount of water (to prevent spillage). Many carriers come with plastic dishes that attach to the door.
If the disaster forces you to stay home and be self sufficient, you'll need to have emergency stores of pet food and supplies.
Water: The Absolute Necessity
Stocking water reserves and learning how to purify contaminated water should be among your top priorities in preparing for an emergency. You should store at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family, including pets. Everyone's needs differ, depending upon age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate. A normally active person should drink at least two quarts of water per day. Hot environments can double that amount. You need additional water for food preparation and hygiene. Store at least one gallon per person, per day and one to two quarts per animal, depending on size and type.
If your supplies begin to run low, remember: Never ration water. Minimize the amount of water your pets need by reducing their activity and keeping them cool.
How to Store Emergency Water Supplies
You can store water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fiberglass, or enamel-lined metal containers. Never use a container that has held toxic substances, because tiny amounts may remain in the container's pores. Plastic containers, such as soft drink bottles, are best. You can also purchase food-grade plastic buckets or drums.
Before storing your water, treat it with a preservative, such as chlorine bleach, to prevent the growth of microorganisms. Use liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite and no soap. Some containers warn, "Not For Personal Use." You can disregard these warnings if the label states sodium hypochlorite is the only active ingredient and if you use only the small quantities in these instructions. Add four drops of bleach per quart of water (or two teaspoons per 10 gallons), and stir. Seal your water containers tightly, label them and store them in a cool, dark place.
Hidden Water Sources in Your Home
If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean water, you can use water in your hot-water tank, in your plumbing, and in ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl), but purify it first.
Shutting Off the Water
Do you know the location of your incoming water valve? If you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines, shut if off to stop contaminated water from entering your home. Be prepared to do this.
Emergency Outdoor Water Sources
If you need to seek water outside your home, you can use the following sources:
Be sure to purify the water before drinking. Avoid water with floating material, an odor, or dark colour. Use saltwater only if you distill it first.
Food: Preparing an Emergency Stockpile
If activity is reduced, healthy pets can survive on less than their usual food intake for an extended period. Food, unlike water, may be rationed safely.
Store the dry and canned foods your pet is accustomed to eating. Familiar foods are important. They are less likely to cause your pet digestive problems and can give them a feeling of security in time of stress. Also, canned foods won't require cooking, water, or special preparation. Following are recommended short-term and long-term food storage plans.
Food Storage Tips
Keep food in the driest and coolest spot in the house, a dark area if possible. Keep food covered at all times. Open food bags/boxes or cans carefully so that you can close them tightly after each use. Wrap biscuits in plastic bags and keep them in airtight containers. Inspect all food containers for signs of spoilage before use.
Short-Term Food Supplies
Even though it is unlikely an emergency would cut off your food supply for two weeks, you should prepare a supply that will last that long. A two-week supply can relieve a great deal of inconvenience and uncertainty until services are restored.
The easiest way to develop a two-week stockpile is to increase the amount of pet foods you normally keep on your shelves. You may already have a two-week supply of food on hand. Make sure you include a manual can opener and disposable utensils.
How to Store Your Short-Term Stockpile
Keep canned foods in a dry place where the temperature is fairly cool, not above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and not below freezing. To protect bagged/boxed foods from pests and extend their shelf life, store them in tightly closed cans or metal containers.
Be sure to rotate your emergency pet food supply. Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies, dated with ink or marker. Canned foods should be rotated at least once or twice per year. Check the pet food packages for expiration dates; use and replace them before they expire. Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in front.
Your emergency food supply should be of the highest quality possible. Inspect your reserves periodically to make sure there are no broken seals or dented containers.
Long-Term Pet Food Supplies
In the unlikely event of a military attack or some other national disaster, you may need long-term emergency pet food supplies. The best approach is to store a variety of dried and canned foods with large amounts of staples from which you can make pet food.
Pet food shelf life varies. Here is a general guideline:
For more information about your specific pet food brand, contact your local pet food retailer or the manufacturer.
For a long-term supply over three years, you can store bulk foods that you can make into pet food. Bulk quantities of grains, like wheat and corn are fairly inexpensive and have nearly unlimited shelf life. Add protein sources, such as dried meats and eggs, as well as vitamin, mineral, and protein supplements your stockpile to assure adequate nutrition. (Vitamin C can be stored almost indefinitely.) Store bags/boxes and bulk grains in sealed cans or plastic buckets.
It's a good idea to store a book with good pet food recipes, like Dr. Richard Pitcairn's Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.
Shelf Life for Long-Term Food Storage
The following may be stored indefinitely (in proper containers and conditions):
Supplement Your Long-Term Stockpile
The above staples offer partial nutrition, but your pets protein needs are higher than yours. You can supplement these ingredients with commercially packed air-dried or freeze-dried meats and other goods.
Following is an easy approach to long-term food storage:
If the Power Goes Out
If the electricity goes off, first use perishable foods from the refrigerator. Next, use foods from the freezer. To minimize the number of times you open the freezer door, post a list of freezer contents on it. In a well-filled, well-insulated freezer, foods will usually still have ice crystals in their centers (meaning foods are safe to eat) for at least three days. Finally, begin to use nonperishable foods and staples.