National Preparedness Month – Home Go Kits & Pets

Since 2004, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has sponsored and designated September as National Preparedness Month.

Read more about National Preparedness Month and in future articles in Food for Thought. On Sept. 16, we covered hurricane season. This week we look at emergency go kits and emergency preparedness for pets. Next week, we’ll wrap up with cyber security. To learn more about specific disasters and emergencies that impact your community, please visit your local and state emergency management agencies. Read more from FEMA on emergency kits.

Emergency Go Kits

During an emergency, it could take up to 72 hours for emergency response personnel to reach you. An emergency go kit contains supplies you and your family would need in an emergency. An emergency kit may be configured for different uses such as a vehicle kit, house kit to shelter in place, or when you need to evacuate from your home. Kits can come in a variety of different sizes and types such as backpacks, duffle bags, or plastic containers. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends having an emergency go kit for each member of your family. An emergency go kit does not need to be put together all at once, but it is important to start preparing now. Begin with the supplies that you have on hand at your house and add supplies to the kit over time. When making an emergency go kit, it is wise to prepare for 72 hours.  

FEMA recommends including the following items and more in your evacuation emergency go kit:

  • Non-perishable food.
  • Water (or portable water filter): 1 gallon per person, per day.
  • Bleach.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Battery-power or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio

FEMA recommends including the following items and more in your vehicle emergency go kit:

  • A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod jack.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Tool kit and/or a multipurpose utility tool.
  • Flashlight and batteries.
  • Reflective triangles or road flares to make your vehicle more visible.

Emergency Kit Maintenance

Some items in your kit might be perishable or degrade over time.  It is critical that you maintain your kit.  Follow these four steps to ensure your kit is always ready when needed:

  • Store your kit in a cool, dry place that’s out of direct sunlight, but is easy to get to for immediate access.
  • Do a six-month check. Replenish all expired food, water, medicines and other perishables.
  • Do a more thorough yearly check. Reassess what the contents. Inspect all items to ensure they work.
  • Maintain your kit as needed. If you ever take items out of your kit promptly replace them.

Emergency Preparedness for Pets

If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or terrorist attack depends largely on your preparedness. There are several steps you can take to ensure the safety of your pet during a disaster. Read more from FEMA on emergency preparedness for pets.

Evacuation Plan

Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency the first important decision is whether you stay put or get away. If you must evacuate, plan how you will gather your pets and their emergency kit and anticipate where you will go. Plan your route. If you go to a public shelter, keep in mind that your pet may not be allowed inside. If possible, secure appropriate lodging in advance depending on the number and type of pets in your care. Consider staying with family or friends. Other options may include a hotel or motel that allows pets or a boarding facility, such as a kennel or veterinary hospital that is near an evacuation facility.

Pet Emergency Kit

Just as you would make an emergency kit for yourself and family, your pet should have their own.

FEMA recommends including the following items and more in your pet emergency go kit:

  • Food for several days in an airtight, waterproof container
  • Water for at least three days
  • Medicine and veterinary/medical records in an airtight, waterproof container
  • First aid kit assembled with guidance from your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet’s emergency medical needs.
  • Collar with ID tags and rabies tag, harness, or leash. Collar with ID and tags should always be worn. Include a backup leash, collar, and ID tag in your pet’s emergency supply kit.

Pet Behavior During an Emergency

Following a disaster, familiar scents and landmarks may be altered, which can create stress and change your pet’s behavior. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch your pet closely and be cautious around other animals – even pets you know. Pets may become confused and lost, so it is critical to maintain close contact with and leash pets when they go outside. Also, snakes and other potentially dangerous animals displaced by the disaster may have migrated into the area (especially after flooding). In addition, downed power lines can also be a hazard for people and their pets. Be aware of your surroundings and protect your pets and yourself.