How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster If You're a City Slicker With Pets

Scenario: Earthquake

Although many of the same tips apply to earthquakes and hurricanes, according to Bernstein, when a tremor happens, pets will panic and flee, and cats will generally hide, making it difficult to round them up if you have to evacuate. Since most felines have favorite hiding places, make sure that you know where those spots are before a disaster hits.

If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, like San Francisco, you probably already have a disaster kit, but make sure that it also contains pet supplies. At a minimum, your pet kit should contain a week's worth of bottled water and food, dog poop bags, cat litter and disposable litter pans, so you're ready in the event that you do need to evacuate. Pets can also injure themselves on debris, so be sure to keep a pet first aid kit.

Scenario: Blizzard

The good news is that a big snowstorm gives you plenty of time to prepare. Think of it as a practice disaster: It's mostly just inconvenient, but you should have some basic supplies on hand to sit out a blizzard, including a couple of days' worth of food and bottled water for your pet.

For a dog, you'll also want to stockpile newspaper or puppy pee pads. If you live in a high-rise and the power goes out, getting up and down the stairs in the dark to take your dog out could be unsafe. Plus, until the sidewalks are cleared, it's going to be tough for your pup to find a good place to go.

Remember, no matter what the emergency, it is your responsibility to either keep your pets safe in your home or be able to evacuate safely with them. To help you be prepared for whatever comes your way, Cardona offers two last pieces of advice: First, invest in training to ensure that your dog is a good canine citizen, walks well on a leash and does not get stressed in crowded and unexpected situations.

Her second tip: Plan, plan and plan. "Don't wait until the last minute," she says, "and then cross your fingers that things will work out."

For more on how to safeguard your pets during an emergency situation, check out these other disaster preparedness stories from Vetstreet.

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