Wildfire Emergency Plans – Include Your Pets

Every family benefits from having an emergency safety plan; this plan must include your pets!  You are responsible for their safety and well-being.  Pets often sense disasters before they happen and can become confused, agitated and fearful.  During fire season, be on the alert for this type of behavior and secure your pet as soon as possible to prevent them from running off in panic.

Just as with your family’s emergency supply kit, pet owners should also have a pet survival kit.  The State Fire Marshal’s Office recommends the following tips for assembling your pet’s survival kit:

Pet Survival Kit Checklist

  • Food, water and medicine(s) for five days.
  • Medical and veterinary records in a waterproof container.  Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need records to verify all vaccinations are current.
  • First aid kit.
  • ID your pet. Make sure your pet’s tags are up to date and securely fastened; if lost, this is their ticket home! Also consider microchipping your pets.
  • Crate or other pet carrier.  Carriers should be large enough to house your pet comfortably for several hours.
  • A current photo of you and your pet together.  This will aid in locating your pet if lost and also in establishing ownership.
  • Familiar items.  These will help to reduce stress.
  • Special feeding, exercise or medication instructions.
  • Sanitary supplies.

Pet-friendly facilities or lodgings should be identified in your plan, as many emergency shelters cannot accept pets for public health reasons.  Some options are boarding kennels, veterinary hospitals, emergency animal shelters and some hotels or motels.  The Humane Society advises that pets turned loose or left behind to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, accidents or exposure to the elements.

If it is necessary to leave your pet at home during a wildfire, there are some precautions you must take.  Identify a safe room and confine your pet to that area – never leave your pet chained outside.  Place stickers on the front- and backdoors to notify neighbors, firefighters, police and other emergency service personnel of the number and type of animals that are in the house and where they are located.  Also provide a number where you or another appropriate contact can be reached as well as the name and number of your vet.

Be sure to familiarize yourself and your family with the evacuation levels for your county and check with local law enforcement regarding evacuations and returning to your home.  You may not be able to retrieve your pet during certain evacuation levels.

It is also important to check with local health services and animal hospitals about any diseases spreading as a result of the wildfire and their suggested preventative measures.  For more information on disaster preparedness for your pet contact the Humane Society of the United States (www.hsus.org), the American Veterinary Medical Association (www.avma.org), the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org) or your veterinarian.

For more information, please visit the Ready.gov website at: www.ready.gov/animals.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is a Bureau of the Washington State Patrol, providing fire and life safety services to the citizens of Washington State including inspections of state licensed facilities, plan review of school construction projects, licensing of fire sprinkler contractors and pyrotechnic operators, training Washington States firefighters, and collecting emergency response data.



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