Fire Season is Here. Again. Are You Ready to Evacuate with Your Pets?
Fire season is here. According to the 2021 Wildfire Preparedness Plan created by Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, it is expected to be a bad one. With fires come evacuations. Planning ahead, and being prepared, can save your life and your pets’ lives.
Many of you already know this. Some of you are new to the area. Fires here can move very fast. You can’t plan on having any advance notice if you have to get out. You cannot sit back and wait for someone to come rescue you and your animals when a fire is barreling down on you! It is up to you to get yourself and your family out of harm’s way, and quickly!
Here are some basic tips for getting prepared.
Evacuation Kit for Your Pets
You can build your kit now and keep it ready to go. Your kit should include:
Leash and sturdy crate. Make sure you have enough crates to safely move ALL of your animals, and that they are secure and won’t fall apart when you pick them up with your pets inside. Label your crates with your name and contact information, and your pets’ names and descriptions.
Medical records –keep a copy in your vehicle and a copy in your kit in case you have to send a friend or neighbor to get your pet out when you aren’t home.
Three days-worth of food and water, especially important if your pet is on a prescription diet.
Pet-safe first aid supplies
Food and water dishes
Blanket or other comfort item
ID, Vaccinations, and Documents
Now is the time to get your pets’ vaccinations up-to-date. Emergency shelters and boarding facilities require proof of current vaccines.
Keep your pets’ medical the records in your vehicle. You won’t have time to look for them, and you’ll probably forget, when it’s time to run. Vaccination records are a must, you should also include records that indicate medications needed and any conditions such as diabetes.
Get your pets microchipped. If they are already chipped, make sure your information is current and still on record. Do not assume this information is current and correct. Check it, get it up-to-date!
Collars and tags are still a must! They are the fastest way to get your pet back. Anyone can read a tag, or your phone number written in Sharpie on a collar, and call you. No chip reader required.
Put a rescue alert sticker on the outside of your home, indicating how many and what kind of pets are inside so rescue workers can find them if you aren’t home. When an evacuation happens, you may be at work or just at the grocery store, but you may not have time to get home to your pets before the area is locked down and you WILL NOT be allowed to go in to get them.
If you normally take your dog’s collar off when they’re just hanging out at home, you should consider keeping it on at all times during fire season. Cats require break-away collars for safety, and often lose them, but it’s worth giving it a try.
Practice! Get your pets used to getting in their crates, so you’re not fighting that battle when the emergency comes and you have NO time to fool around.
Do a test run to see if you can really get everyone in the vehicle as planned. Make sure your crates all fit, and that you can get them in the vehicle by yourself. Do it in the dark! Yes, really. Our fire evacuations can come in the middle of the night.
Know where you’ll go. That could be friends or family outside of the danger zone who are willing to take you and your pets in during an emergency. It might be pet-friendly hotels. Boarding may be necessary. Emergency shelters should be a last resort. Going to emergency shelters often means that you go to one shelter and your pets go to another one, which is stressful for everyone and increases the chance that your pet will be lost or injured.