Every morning this week I anxiously checked my blackberry patch, looking to see whether the berries were ready to pick. I taste-tested a berry just yesterday, but it was still too tart. Before testing this morning, however, a neighbor told me that the blackberries are ripe and ready. I guess both the neighbors and the birds have been checking, too! It is good to have support in such matters. Berry season comes and goes very quickly.
Readiness for other matters in life is a bit more predictable. June 1st is an important annual readiness date because this date marks the beginning of Hurricane Season. On June 1st, I check my family’s Disaster Readiness Kit. Florida is a disaster-prone state. Not only do we Floridian’s need to be ready for hurricanes, but we must also be ready for brush fires, floods, tornadoes, and every other natural plague. A few years ago there was even an earthquake in the Gulf of Mexico. Can’t a Florida family get a break?
So, am I ready yet for a disaster? Do I have enough supplies to support my two-legged and four-legged family members for at least 72 hours without power or water? Do I need to update my family evacuation plans? Now is the time to check.
Every June 1st, these are five items I check in my Pet‘s Disaster Kit:
- Vaccine Records Do I have proof of current vaccines for each pet?
- License Tag Do I have a current license for each pet and is that tag attached to the collar?
- Microchip Does each pet have a microchip inserted? Have I scanned for it lately?
- Registration Is the registration information for each microchip updated in the registration database? (A microchip only works if it is properly registered so someone can find an owner of a lost pet.)
- Photo Do I have a current photo of each of my pets?
I keep proof of these important items in a water-proof file box that includes my other important family papers. This box goes with me if I evacuate. I also keep these items on a free application called Paw Card in my SmartPhone. Yes, there is an app for that! The Paw Card application lets me instantly send an e-mail of my pet identification and health information anywhere it might be needed. If you don’t have a SmartPhone, check with your veterinarian. The veterinarian’s website might have a Pet Portal you can use to store your important pet ID and health information. Pet Portal access is free to clients of most veterinary practices.
Every June 1st I also update my Family Evacuation Plans. The plans must include my pets. Notice I said PLANS. You need more than one evacuation plan for when the one you had planned is not possible when disaster strikes.
1 You need one plan for sheltering in place and supporting your family completely for 72 hours without electricity or water. (Visit http://floridadisaster.org for help with making a family plan and a business plan.)
2. You need another plan for sheltering out of the evacuation area, preferably just a bit inland so you won’t have to drive too far while the rest of the citizens of the coast are also jamming the roads. This could be with a friend, a family member, a fellow church/club member, or a pet-friendly hotel. (Visit http://www.aaasouth.com for a list of pet-friendly hotels, but remember these spaces fill quickly. Also check with your church or other community organizations to see whether they promote match-ups between members who need a safe place to evacuate and those with space to share. )
3. Finally, you need to plan for which Red-Cross Evacuation Shelter you would go to as a last resort. Does that shelter allow pets? If not, where can you safely board your pets? (Visit http://www.pascoemergencymanagement.com to find the locations of the Red Cross Public Evacuation Shelters in Pasco County.) Don’t expect a public shelter to be your first plan, though. Public shelters should be your last resort. And most public shelters still do not allow you to bring your pets. Check with your veterinarian about recommendations for pet boarding facilities located outside of evacuation zones.
Be safe. Check your Family Disaster Kit and update your Family Evacuation Plans on or before June 1st every year. If you need help getting ready for a disaster with your pets, always check with your veterinarian for advice.
Are you ready yet?
Dr. Spencer practices at Bayonet Point Animal Clinic in Port Richey