Are You Ready to Evacuate?
by LISA S. VASA, Lost Woods Norwegian Forest Cats
Spanish Translation / Traducción Español

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The summer of 2015 has been one of the driest in years in both the United States and Canada.

From southern California north through Washington state, from Oregon to Idaho and Colorado, and into southern British Columbia, wildfires have blazed out of control.

People and their homes are being threatened, along with their animals.

While many of us are safe from forest fires, that doesn't make us immune to other disasters. Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, a fire in our home, the gas line explosion down the street . . . anyone could be forced to leave their home in a hurry due to an emergency situation.

Everyone needs to have a plan for emergencies. Do you have one? Does it include your cats and their needs?

Things To Consider

Any evacuation plan should have at least a couple scenarios: What if you have no warning and must leave your home immediately? What if you had an hour or more notice?

What do you need to take with you (besides the cats, of course!)?

Basics Things to Take With you When You Evacuate:

For starters:

  • Cat Food
  • Litter
  • Litter Boxes
  • Bowls for food and water
  • Medicines

Handy Extras:

Other things that come in handy are:

  • Paper Towels
  • Tissue Wipes
  • Garbage Bags
  • Bottled Water or water purification tablets (in case the water supply is compromised such as might happen in a flood situation).
  • First Aid Kit
  • Health & Pedigree Records
  • If you have kittens to care for consider keeping a supply of powdered KMR on hand.

If you live in an area where evacuations are a seasonal occurrence, keeping a supply of food and litter just for emergencies is a good idea.

Cat Carriers

  • Do you have enough carriers for all your cats?
  • What about during kitten season?
  • Collapsible carriers are especially nice when you have a large number of cats.
  • How are you planning to carry a mom and her litter of five?
  • Larger kennels may be the answer to keeping mom and the kittens together.
  • Make sure whatever you choose will fit in your car.
  • If possible, have a carrier for each adult cat. Remember. the cats may have to be confined to the carrier for a length of time so the bigger the better.

Plan For Your Destination

  • Where will you go?
  • Many emergency shelters don't allow animals, so you need to have a place to go that allows cats.
  • Do you have friends or family to stay with? Or will you stay in a hotel?
  • Which hotels in your area allow pets? Along with all the carriers and supplies you keep together for emergencies, keep a list of hotels in the area that allow pets along with their phone numbers.
  • If you have been on standby for evacuation, note what arrangements have been made for pets. If you're not familiar with the facility, get directions and a phone number to keep with your supplies.
  • Other phone numbers you might want to include on your list are the local veterinary hospitals. If all else fails, they may be able to help you find a place for your animals.

Sardines in a Can?

  • Can you get everyone (you, your family, your animals) in your vehicle (or vehicles) at one time?
  • It's unlikely you'll get a chance to make a second trip to retrieve your cats in an emergency.
  • Do you have a neighbor who'd help if you can't fit everyone in your own car?
  • Don't wait until the last minute to ask for assistance if you need it—make a plan NOW!

Storing Your Supplies

Is everything you plan to take easily accessible? The last thing you'd want to be doing in an emergency is to be racing from room to room trying to collect everything. Keep your supplies, carriers, phone numbers and anything else you need together in a convenient spot. Options might include storing your evacuation supplies beside the door to your garage, or in a closet near the door you will be leaving through, or in the garage itself. If you are on evacuation alert, you should also try to keep all the animals in one or two rooms so it will be easy to catch them.

The Needs of the Two-Footed Family

One last thing to think about—while making your plans for your furry family, don't forget your human family. Important items include:

  • Eyeglasses
  • Car Keys
  • Medications in their original containers
  • Checkbook, Cash & Credit Cards
  • Insurance information
  • Identification
  • Important papers such as wills and deeds
  • Change of clothes
  • Cell Phone
  • Tablet, Laptop

Practice Drill

Once you have your plan in place, it's time to
try it out. Go through the entire plan as if you had to evacuate. Yes, load up all the animals, all the supplies, and head off to the emergency shelter. Okay, you can just drive to the park!

Once you arrive, park the car and spend some time thinking (talking, if your family is with you) about what you'd do if you couldn't go back to your house for several days (or weeks).

With that possibility in mind, go through your supplies and ask if everything you need is there. What did you forget? What don't you need that is taking up valuable space? Go home, unpack and refine the plan while giving thanks that this time it wasn't needed.

I hope none of us ever has to use our emergency plans, but at least we'll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing we're as prepared as we can be for a disaster.

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