by Soojin Um
Staff Writer

It seems every time we turn on the news, we see that some disaster or tragedy has hit some area. Already this year our planet has endured typhoons, earthquakes, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, mudslides, and much more. It’s not much fun to think about, but preparing for possible emergencies could save you and your loved ones. This month is National Disaster Preparedness Month. In recognition of that, this article will discuss three disaster scenarios, and how you can protect your pets should they arise. A quick note: we covered home fire safety in a recent blog.

shutterstock_357982367 SmallWildfires have been getting more frequent in recent years. Dry and windy conditions have made many parts of the United States susceptible to wildfires. If you live in an area that is vulnerable, you may need to come up with a plan on what to do should a fire threaten your home.

One of the first things to watch out for in wildfires is smoke. Even if the fires are hundreds of miles away, the smoke can blanket whole communities, especially if there is little to no wind. Keep your cats indoors as much as possible. Make sure windows and doors are closed at all times. You may want to invest in an air purifier in case the smoke gets really bad and infiltrates the home. Look out for signs of smoke inhalation. If it gets really bad, you may need to consider taking them somewhere where there’s clean air.

If a fire is physically threatening your neighborhood and home, then an evacuation plan is a must. You will need to determine where you will take your cat. An “evacuation kit” could also come in handy. Several days’ worth of food and water, a pet carrier, a leash and harness, and (if necessary) medications are all recommended. This way, you can grab the kit and go rather than spend precious time thinking of and gathering the necessary supplies.

shutterstock_742587517 SmallIf you live on the West Coast, the threat of earthquakes loom large. However, earthquakes frequently occur on the East Coast and in the Midwest as well. Additionally, due to the geology of the United States, those quakes are often felt over far greater distances than their West Coast counterparts.

Regardless of where it occurs, earthquakes are often the most alarming of natural disasters because they often come with no warning. We can see a hurricane coming for days. Tornados have seasons, and atmospheric conditions can predict when they are most likely to occur. Earthquakes, on the other hand, often strike when we least expect it. When it happens, there’s no time to lose.

So, what should you do when an earthquake hits? The first thing to do is make sure you and your cats are out of harm’s way. Take cover and help your cats into a safe place if you can. Falling debris can be especially dangerous. Once the quake is over, try to comfort your cats. They won’t understand what just happened or that it’s over. In fact, it might not be over. Aftershocks can be just as dangerous as the earthquake itself. Gather your cats into a safe place, either a safe room or into crates, and wait. Most quakes generate aftershocks. You also want to make sure all of your doors and windows are closed when you are able. Pets can get very scared during earthquakes and might try to make a run for it. Once it’s all over, they should be able to go back to normal in a couple hours.

shutterstock_384306409 SmallFlooding affects thousands of families and pets each year. Many communities around the country lie in flood risk areas. Floodwaters can cause extreme damage to homes, often making them uninhabitable. If people or animals are caught inside the homes during a flood, it can get very dangerous very fast.

When faced with a flood, first keep your cats calm as possible. You don’t want them to panic and run off, which can put them in greater danger. Next, understand that floodwaters can get pretty powerful. They’re often strong enough to wash away cars and even houses. Watch out also for any debris in the water. Floodwaters are often murky and you may not be able to see any dangers lurking just under the surface. If you must wade through the water, carry your pets safely above it. Do not under any circumstances wade through water that is moving rapidly.

Preparation in the event of an emergency could help save the lives of those you hold dear. Having a plan in place, even a basic one, will allow you to act right away when something happens rather than spending precious time trying to think of what to do. It will also give you confidence which can push back the panic that otherwise could be building up inside. In the case of an emergency, you’ll need a clear and focused mind. Your loved ones are counting on you.

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