Emergency Preparedness for your Pets

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member & Communications Volunteer Partner

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans years ago, it was reported that more than 10,000 people refused evacuation because they didn’t want to leave their pets behind. Some of those people, and their pets, became casualties. When reporters asked survivors who didn’t evacuate why they would risk their lives for their pets, they said things like, “They are part of my family.” Or, “My pet is my kid; would you leave your kid behind?”

It’s a situation many animal lovers understand. And a situation many community leaders have considered to save lives of both pets and people.

The truth is, if it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for your pet either. As we recognize World Animal Day (October 4), we recommend that as you make your emergency plans for your family in the event of a home fire, weather emergency or any disaster that might require you to leave your home, it is important that you include arrangements for your pet in those plans.

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Red Cross volunteer Pat Kern with Lila in a shelter in North Carolina. Photo by Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

While the American Red Cross has historically not allowed pets in shelters, mainly for health and sanitation reasons, they work with local and regional animal agencies that operate shelters that would keep pets and their people if not together then nearby. In our area, the Red Cross works with an organization called CARE.

“If we had a shelter opened, we would rely upon them to set up a pet shelter adjacent to the evacuation shelter,” said Debbie Chitester, disaster program manager for the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter “They have the equipment, supplies and volunteers to do that.”

Debbie also encourages people to have a plan for their pets.

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Jordan, age 8, was able to be with his pets at a shelter in California last summer.
Photo by Virginia Becker/American Red Cross

“Think ahead to family or friends who may be able to take care of your pet,” she explained. “Talk with a vet or a boarding facility ahead of time to see if they have a plan and would be able to accept your pet,” she suggests. If a pet owner does not have any other place to take their pets, she said the Red Cross would activate the CARE team to set up a shelter for them. You can call your local Red Cross office to ask what shelters  are available for your pet if needed.

As you put your emergency plan and supply kit together for your family,make sure you have a separate one for your pet. Your pet emergency kit should include:

  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that they can’t escape.
  • Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan and a manual can opener if your pet eats canned food. Use plastic/waterproof bins to keep dry food dry and free of mold or bugs.
  • Medications and copies of medical records stored in a waterproof container.
  • A first aid kit.
  • Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost. Since many pets look alike, this will help eliminate mistaken identity and confusion.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavioral problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.

Knowing you have a plan for your family, including your beloved pet(s), will give you peace of mind should a situation ever arise where you need  to evacuate your home. Click HERE for more information about preparing pets (and people) for emergencies.

Keep Your Pet Safe in the Event of a Home Fire

By Sue Wilson Cordle, Red Cross Volunteer and Board Member

Recent natural disasters like last year’s hurricanes, ongoing wildfires and even the volcano eruptions in Hawaii have brought pet rescue national attention. In a search and rescue situation, human safety always comes first, and pets are often left behind. We’ve all seen the heartbreaking pictures in the news of pets stranded in a life-threatening situation, making many of us realize that if we have pets, we need to make a plan to keep our pets, as well as our people-safe.

Far more common than a natural disaster, is a home fire. In fact, home fires are the most common disasters the Red Cross responds to, and the most preventable. I remember when I was in grade school, we had “Fire Safety Week” and the Fire Marshal from a local fire department came in and talked to all of us about an escape plan for our homes. We were reminded to go home and talk to our parents and perform at-home fire drills, similar to the ones we did in school, and to find a meeting spot in the yard to make sure everyone got out. I don’t recall dogs, cats or any kind of pets being in the escape planning, but they should be!

Sunday July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day, and the Red Cross has several suggestions to keep your family and pets safe in the event of a home fire. Most importantly, is prevention.

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Every year, pets are the cause of many preventable home fires. Curious pets can easily knock over lit candles, investigate what’s cooking on the stove, or even get into trouble if they get too close to a fire in the fireplace. Here are a few tips to keep pets safe around the house:

  • Ensure your pet is never left unattended around an open flame
  • Remove or protect stove knobs so they can’t accidentally jump up and turn on the stove
  • Invest in flame-less candles. Cats are known for batting at and knocking down lit candles
  • Secure especially active and young pets either in a crate or behind a gate in an easily accessible area

In the event of a fire, help firefighters find your pets easily.

  • Keep pets near an entrance while you are away from home
  • Invest in pet alert window clings to let firefighters know you have pets and how many
  • Keep collars on your pet so they can be leashed to escort out (cats and dog hide in fear and are sometimes difficult to capture)

Get more information  on how to keep your pet safe and learn more about pet first aid and sign up for a pet online first aid course here.

Keeping Pets Safe in the Heat

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Volunteer Leader

petfirst-appToday is the first official day of summer, although we’ve already had a number of days with temperatures into the 90’s.  Heat and humidity can be uncomfortable for us, but it is far more uncomfortable, even dangerous for our pets. Here are some tips for keeping your pets safe in hot weather.

Never, ever leave your pets in the car. It seems obvious, but we still see so many people who want to bring their dogs along for the ride. Many justify this by saying their dogs love car rides, and love to be with them. But running in to the store for “just 5-minutes” put your dog in jeopardy.

First, of all, what if you get distracted? What if there is a long line at the check-out? 5 minutes turns into 10 while the temperature in your car soars. On an 75-degree day, temps can reach over a 100 within 30 minutes, even with the car window cracked.   

If you see a pet in a hot car, take action. Take down the make, model and license of the car and go into the place of business to report it. Call the non-emergency number for the police to report the situation. And you can get involved by asking store managers at local restaurants, malls, and businesses to put up signs asking customers to not leave their pets in their cars.

The Humane Society has things you can do if you see a dog in a hot car.

Some dogs are more prone to have difficulty in hot weather than others. Dogs with short snouts, heavy fur, that are overweight, or breathing issues are are higher risk of heat stroke. If you notice heavy panting, fast pulse or any of these symptoms, take immediate action to cool down your pet. Dogs with white colored early are more susceptible to skin cancers, so keep your dog out of direct sunlight in the summer for long periods.

Hot asphalt is dangerous to pads. A dog’s feet pads are tender, and burn easily. The rule is, if it is too hot for your bare feet, do not walk your dog on it as it is too hot for their feet too. Walk your dog on the grass. Dogs sweat through their feet so their paws are an important temperature gauge and their pads must be protected.

Provide shade and water  Keep plenty of fresh cool water available for your dog inside and out. Carry a water bottle with you on walks and keep a portable collapsible pet bowl with you to keep your dog from dehydrating. If your pets spend lots of time outside provide a spot with plenty of shade. Tarps or tree shade are better than a dog house, as they provide air flow. Dog houses often make the heat worse. In excessive heat, many dogs love a small baby pool filled with water to cool off.  Add ice to water bowls.

Download the Red Cross Pet First Aid App for more information on how to include Pets in emergency preparedness plans, in case of a natural disaster or other emergency situations. The app also features instructions for first aid emergencies. Find the app in your app store or you can text GETPET to 90999 for a link to download or go here redcross.org/apps. You can also take the Red Cross First Aid online course. Access the course here  redcross.org/catdogfirstaid and go through the content at your own pace.

  

 

Let the Annual Weather Games Begin

May the forecast be ever in your favor….

If you like snow and cold, you are REALLY in luck this week. According to our partners at the Weather Channel, Northeast Ohio is in for some outstanding winter weather with snow giving way to freezing temperatures and then back to an icy, wintery mix over the next 10 days.

But we’ll leave the forecasting to the professionals.

Let’s chat about some things that you and your family can do to prepare for the winter weather that is upon us. But first, please remember your friends and neighbors – especially those who may have functional or access needs – and check on them. Help them get prepared as well, if you are able!

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Protecting every member of your family with your 72-hour kit

FamilyThere is nothing more frustrating (or hilarious, depending on how you view it) than going through your 72-hour kit and seeing a huge pack of newborn diapers intended to fit your 15-month-old toddler.

That teensy, tiny diaper simply isn’t going to cut it.

If you are the parent or care-giver to an infant or toddler, you will need to go through your 72-hour emergency kit quarterly to keep up with your ever growing child.

For those who haven’t built a 72-hour kit, yet, here are some items you will need in addition to your family’s regular kit:

  • 96 oz of water (about ¾ of a gallon) will cover a 72-hour span. Keep in mind, infants may drink up 32 oz a day when mixed with formula. If you are breastfeeding, keep more on hand for you to drink to in order to keep up your supply.
  • POWDERED Formula. Make sure that you have enough to cover the number of bottles and ounces that your baby drinks during the day, times three.
  • Bottles and nipples (make sure they are the right size of nipple for your child!) The more you have in your kit, the less washing and sterilizing you will have to do.
  • A large pack of diapers.
  • Baby wipes.
  • Diaper rash ointment.
  • Re-sealable gallon bags (for soiled clothes and diapers).
  • Clothing:
    • 3-5 onsies.
    • 3-5 footed pajamas.
    • 6-10 pairs of socks.
  • Burp cloths.
  • 3-5 receiving blankets.
  • 1-2 fleece (or heavier) blankets.
  • Toys, teething rings or other items to occupy attention.
  • Copy of Immunization Record in the family files.
  • Add to the first aid kit:
    • Teething gel.
    • Infant acetaminophen.
    • Infant ibuprofen.
    • Bulb syringe.
    • Hand sanitizer.

When you go through your kit (quarterly!) be sure to pay attention to your diaper sizes, clothing sizes, nipple sizes and amount of formula on hand (if needed).

Don’t forget about your pets! In the event of a disaster they will have supply needs as well. Here are some tips to keep your four-legged family members safe during a disaster:

  • Store extra food, water, bowls, litter box, medicine, first aid supplies and health records for each animal with your 72-hour kit.
  • Leashes and pet carriers should be together and accessible.
  • Before disaster strikes, identify pet-friendly places to stay within a 50-mile radius. Keep your pet with you if at all possible during a disaster.
  • Have current health/vaccination records, proof of ownership and brand or microchip identification.

To ensure that all members of your family are safe during a disaster, download the Red Cross First Aid apps available for people or pets. For more information on building a 72-hour kit, check out redcross.org!