If you have pets, you likely treat them like members of the family. So when extreme whether or a natural disaster strikes, it’s important to include all the members of your family in your response plan. Developing a pet safety plan ahead of time will not only ease your mind, it’ll increase your pets’ chances for survival in the case of an emergency.
If you live in a region where blizzards are common, plan ahead for what you’ll do if you lose power for several days. Keep a spare bag of pet food stocked away in the pantry in case you’re snowed in, and have a backup of any crucial pet medications on hand during the coldest winter months. If you have outdoor animals, like horses and livestock, supply plenty of food, water, dry bedding and a secure shelter from the elements. Keep a watchful eye on these vulnerable animals for signs of unusual behavior, which may signal frostbite or pneumonia. Ensure that all animals are wearing a secure collar and tag with identification.
If you’re forced to evacuate due to a major storm, always, always take your animals with you! Pets’ chances for survival drop significantly when left to fend for themselves. Determine in advance which hotels or shelters accept pets or which family member you can stay with, so you’ll know exactly where you’ll go when you leave home. If you have large animals, consider whether you’ll have a trailer available to move them and whether they’re accustomed to traveling in it.
Leaving your domestic pet behind should be a last resort, but if you’re forced to do so, make sure they’re secured indoors with access to food and lots of water. Fill up the bathtub, take the lid off of the toilet tank and leave the bathroom door propped open. You never know how long a weather-related emergency will keep you away from home.
By planning ahead and talking through your plan as a family, you’ll be well-equipped to deal with a winter weather emergency if and when it strikes.
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