By Kate Dinneen, CERT Coordinator and Duty Office (Douglas County Emergency Management)

As storm season approaches here in Kansas, the question of how to respond to a storm pops up in people’s minds. However a disaster can — and does! — happen any time of year. Some disasters, like severe storms and tornadoes, are large and affect a neighborhood or entire community; others, like fires, are small and may impact only an individual or family. No matter the size it is always good to be prepared, have a plan, and have a kit.

FEMA’s National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day is Saturday, May 13 and, together with the Lawrence Humane Society, we want to stress the importance of making sure accommodations for every family member, including pets, are being included in your family’s disaster plan.

Why an Emergency Preparedness Kit?

When an emergency happens it is good to know you can grab your kit/bag and everything you will need to get through the next 3 days is in it. Otherwise, you will be trying to deal with the stress of the emergency, and trying to remember what you might need and where you might find those items, which only heightens the stress. So make a kit for yourself, each member of your family … and each of your pets.

9 Items Every Pet Emergency Go-Kit Should Have

  1. Plenty of food and water.
    Plan for three to seven days’ worth of food and bottled water per pet. Make sure food is in airtight containers and have serving bowls and a manual can opener.
  2. Any necessary medications.
    If your pet is on any medications, be sure to have some extra packed away—particularly because you may not be able to reach your veterinarian in the event of a disaster. Remember that food and medication need to be regularly rotated out of your emergency kit to avoid spoiling or expiration.
  3. First aid kit.
    It’s important to have a pet first aid kit, which can be purchased through most pet retailers or can be assembled at home.
  4. Up-to-date shelter information and travel-ready equipment.
    In case of an evacuation, make sure you have a current list of the shelters, boarding facilities, hotels/motels or even family members and friends that will allow your pets a safe place to stay. Consider keeping this list of contacts stored in your phone as well as printed or stored on a USB drive and kept in your prep kit. Don’t forget to have your pets’ carrier(s) ready and available.
  5. Leash, harness, collar and appropriate identification tags.
    Animals can often get frightened and bolt during emergencies, so make sure that your pet always has a secure collar with the appropriate identification attached.
  6. Important information and documents.
    In addition to the shelter contacts, keep your veterinarian’s information, the contact information of the local animal control, boarding facilities, emergency veterinary clinics and the Animal Poison Control Center on hand. You should also have a copy of your pets’ medical records, rabies registration, their microchip number and company information, as well as a current picture. You can keep this on your phone or computer, but it’s also advisable to keep paper copies in a waterproof bag.
  7. Sanitary solutions.
    Litter, newspapers and a litter box for cats are crucial. Also, include disposable bags for cleanup, liquid dish soap and disinfectant. Consider including pee pads for puppies and smaller dogs as well.
  8. Comforting extras.
    Emergency situations are stressful on both you and your pets. Don’t forget to include their favorite blankets, bedding or toys to calm them and make them feel more comfortable.
  9. Plan of action.
    Make a plan with your family members or roommates about where to meet and how to get in touch if disaster strikes. Also, make sure everyone is aware of where your emergency supplies and kits are located.

Important Tip: When you make up your kit, consider putting it somewhere within easy reach of your pet’s daily feeding spot. Move the food and medicines you’re already feeding and administering to your pet through the kit — this way whatever you are currently giving your pet for food and meds is already there. I just replenish what’s in the kit when it gets low, with the extras set in a cupboard until needed. If there is anything else which might have an expiration date, consider doing something similar to use what’s in the kit first and refresh on a regular basis.

While, hopefully, no disasters head our way this summer, taking the time to be prepared before disaster strikes can make a very stressful situation a little less stressful.

To learn more about disaster preparedness, visit

Kate Dinneen is a Duty Officer and CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Coordinator for Douglas County Emergency Management

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