The devastating floods in Iowa are a reminder that pets and their owners may be forced to evacuate on short notice.
Yet studies on disaster evacuation show that only 40% of pet owners are prepared to evacuate their pets with the rest of the family. The remaining 60% evacuate without their pets and then risk their own lives by returning home prematurely to rescue their animals. To safeguard your pet during a flood, be prepared before the flooding occurs. Take action now, our companion animals depend on us for their survival.
Pet Carriers - The most common reason for non-evacuation of pets is a lack of suitable carriers particularly for cats. In households with multiple pets it's common to have a single carrier for veterinary visits. But in an evacuation, a carrier is required for each pet. Make sure you have enough carriers constructed of wire mesh or plastic. Cardboard carriers will disintegrate in a flood.
Have a Pet Safety Kit ready and a second kit in the car.
Evacuation Tips for Pets - Keep in mind that animals react differently under stress. Keep dogs secure. Transport cats in carriers. Don't leave animals unattended. Even the most trustworthy pets may panic, hide, try to escape, or even bite or scratch. And, when you return home, give your pets time to settle back into their routines.
During Heavy Rains - Listen to the radio for warnings and directions issued by emergency management personnel.
· Evacuate to higher ground.
· If you see any possibility of a flash flood occurring, move immediately to high ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
· Walking or driving through floodwaters is the most dangerous thing you can do.
· Police barricades are there for your protection. Do not drive around them!
During a Flood - Be sure everyone is safe from the fast flowing floodwaters. Flowing water that an adult can walk through may sweep children and pets away.
1. Cooperate fully with local officials. Keep informed of local conditions. Obey all health regulations for protection against epidemics.
2. Do not walk through moving water. Flood waters only one foot deep can sweep you off your feet. Look for areas where the water is not moving. What might seem like a small amount of moving water can easily knock you down.
3. Do not drive into flooded areas. If your vehicle becomes surrounded by rising water, get out quickly and move to higher ground.
4. Stay away from downed power lines to avoid the risk of electrocution.
5. Wait until officials assure you that the flood danger is over before reentering any area.
Julie A. Calligaro is a probate and estate planning attorney and the author of How to Safeguard Your Pet in an Emergency and at Your Disability or Death and Arranging Your Financial And Legal Affairs. http://www.SafeguardMyDog.com. A free checklist of steps that protect pets during an emergency and at your disability or death and a Pet Care Card to carry if you are injured or hospitalized, http://www.safeguardmydog.com/Nutshell.pdf