When hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters strike, everyone in the family is affected, including your furry, feathered or even scaled family members. It’s important to make sure your emergency plan includes your pets, too.

To avoid pulling things together at the last minute, take time to prepare a safety kit that includes the following items:

  • A carrier for each pet
  • No-spill food and water bowls
  • Plastic bags for disposing of pet waste
  • Paper towels and disinfectants to clean up any accidents
  • Blankets and bedding
  • Medications, along with dosing instructions
  • A pet first aid kit
  • Photocopies of your pets’ medical records (or even better, a USB drive with these documents saved in digital form)
  • Recent photos of your pet in case you get separated and need to make a poster
  • Toys, treats and a two-week supply of food and water
  • For cats or rabbits, include a litter box and litter

A pet emergency kit not only helps you, it makes it easier for a nearby friend or family member to assist your pet if you’re not home.

The power of planning ahead

If your area is being evacuated, it’s important to include your pet in your plans. If it’s not safe for humans, it’s not safe for pets. Make arrangements to ensure your pet has a caretaker if you’re not able to take them with you, and designate drop-off and pickup locations.

Though many hotels allow pets, check the policy of your particular destination. The same goes for airlines if you’re planning to evacuate by air. While most airlines allow pets to travel, check the restrictions of your airline, and know that the temperature of both your original location and your destination can affect whether or not your pet will be allowed to fly.

Tips for riding out the storm

If you’re sheltering in place, bring your pets inside until the threat has passed completely. In the case of hurricanes, much of the danger comes from rising waters after the initial storm has passed. Monitor your situation closely to make sure you’re not putting your pet in danger.

If you’re facing a wildfire, check the air quality around your home. Smoke can be dangerous for pets even if the fie is no longer burning. If the air isn’t safe for humans, it’s not safe for pets either.

Pets can be extremely vulnerable during storms; they may become fearful and attempt to run away. Don’t trust that they’ll follow their typical behavior or respond to known commands. Keep them in carriers or on leashes when you aren’t in a secured area. Also make sure that they have their collars on at all times and are with you as much as possible.

How to prepare ahead of time

Even if a natural disaster isn’t imminent, preparing for one now can save you hassle down the road. If your pet isn’t microchipped, talk to your veterinarian about getting a chip during the next appointment. Consider GPS pet trackers that allow you to find your pet’s location if you get separated.

Another way to prepare in advance is to work on familiarizing your pets with crates and carriers. Training them when there’s not an emergency makes it less stressful for them (and for you) when a crisis strikes. Your pets are your family — and accounting for them in your emergency plan is an essential part of keeping your family safe. Put together a pet kit, be proactive in your planning and remain calm. Your future self and your pets will thank you.

Learn more about Nationwide pet insurance or get a quote today.