In the event of an emergency your first priority should be to keep you, your family, and your pets safe. The best way to ensure safety is to be prepared for an emergency situation if it does come. We have put together a guide and list of resources below to help you best prepare for your pet's safety in the event of an emergency or evacuation.
To prepare ahead of time for an emergency situation:
Rescue Alert Sticker: Placing one of these stickers in a visible place near the entrance of your home gives rescue workers the information they need to make sure all animals are safe or immediately rescued.
This sticker should include the number and types of pets in your home as well as the name and contact information for your veterinarian.
If you evacuate with your pets write “EVACUATED” on the sticker so that rescue workers know everyone is safe.
The ASPCA offers free stickers by mail via online order form. Local pet supply stores also often carry rescue alert stickers.
Make sure your pet is identifiable:
Keep tags and collars up-to-date with your pet’s name, your telephone number, and medical needs if necessary. The ASPCA recommends microchipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification.
Plan an escape route
Map out your home, identifying main exits, primary emergency routes, and backup routes as well. Consider fire ladders if your home has multiple stories, flames and smoke can block hallways and staircases.
Practice the escape plan with your pets, train them to come to you when you call them.
Prepare an emergency kit - for pets and humans
Store an emergency kit clearly labeled near an exit so you can grab and go in the event of an evacuation.
Each human member of your household should also have an emergency kit ready to grab and go. We’ve included a few links to sites with human emergency kit
The ASPCA’s list for a pet’s emergency kit is as follows:
- Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include)
- 3-7 days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
- Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
- Litter or paper toweling
- Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
- Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
- Pet feeding dishes and water bowls
- Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
- Photocopies and/or USB of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless)
- At least seven days’ worth of bottled water for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
- A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
- Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)
- Especially for cats: Pillowcase, toys, scoop-able litter
- Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner
- Arrange a safe place for your pets to go in the event of an evacuation, if you can’t take them with you find somewhere that can take care of your pet until you can return. The ASPCA recommends a few different options:
Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities.
Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets.
Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet.
Choose a caregiver. This will take time and thought but it is important to have a plan in the event that you cannot return to your pet. When deciding who your first choice is to foster your pet make sure they understand the full responsibility of taking in and caring for your pet. You most likely will want to consider someone who knows your pet and has experience caring for animals. This is the last possible choice for you and your pet but you want to ensure that your pet is in the best hands possible.
All of these preparations should be completed as far in advance as possible. Do a yearly update of exit routes, identification, and emergency kits and make sure to check-in with caregivers and evacuation locations to make sure everyone is on the same page in the event of an emergency.
In the event of an actual fire or evacuation, here are some things to keep in mind:
If you must evacuate the best thing to do to ensure your pet’s safety is to take them with you.
Rescue humans and pets first before your belongings. Remember, the only thing that can’t be replaced is someone’s life. Make sure your family and pets are safe and if there is time you can gather important documents and belongings after.
The ASPCA has a free mobile app that works with or without data. The app can guide pet owners through what to do in the event of a disaster, allows you to save important medical records, and provides advice and information to help you make important decisions in the moment. We absolutely recommend you download this app and keep it up to date as a part of your emergency preparedness.
Below are more resources and information on emergency preparedness:
Rescue Alert Sticker Online Order Form: https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack
Extra considerations for birds, horses, reptiles, and small animals: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness
More general fire safety tips for humans and pets: https://www.safewise.com/blog/tips-for-protecting-yourself-and-your-family-during-a-home-fire/
More information from American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire/pet-fire-safety