Did you know that June is National Pet Preparedness Month? Although it’s important to be prepared for emergencies and natural disasters all year round, this month is a great reminder to review your disaster/emergency plan for your family and pets.

Disasters are unpredictable. They can happen anywhere, at any time. From fires to flooding, hurricanes to earthquakes, disasters can strike when you least expect it. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared for disasters by having an emergency plan in place.

Here are a few tips to help you put together an effective emergency plan:

1. Know the threats

While some disasters, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, are more likely to affect certain locations, other disasters can strike anywhere, such as fires and widespread power outages. It’s important to understand which threats are most likely to affect your area so that you can effectively plan for each of them.

2. Plan your response

After you’ve made a list of potential threats, now you can develop your response. Make sure to outline your course of action for each threat. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • If you’re forced to evacuate your home, where would you go? It’s a good idea to research places that will accept pets if an emergency occurs. Maybe it’s a pet-friendly hotel, a family member or friend, or a shelter.
  • If you have to leave home, what will you take with you? You should have an emergency kit ready with all of your pet’s necessities.
  • If you live in an area that is prone to tornadoes or earthquakes, you should determine which rooms will be safest in the event of a natural disaster.
  • You should also consider placing a rescue alert sticker on or near your front door to alert rescue workers that there are pets inside your home in the event of an emergency. The ASPCA offers free emergency pet alert stickers by simply filling out an online order form.

3. Update identification

It’s important to make sure that your pet’s identification is up to date. And of course, your pet should be wearing identification at all times. The basics should include your pet’s name, your cell phone number, and any urgent medical needs.

You may consider microchipping your pet if you haven’t already. The ASPCA recommends microchipping your pet as a more permanent and reliable form of identification. It increases the odds that you will be reunited with your pet, and a microchip can’t be removed easily like a collar. Don’t forget to register the microchip and keep your contact information up to date!

4. Put together an emergency kit

If a disaster strikes and you have to evacuate, you’ll need extra pet supplies on hand. Your pet emergency kit should include at least a 5-day supply of pet food and bottled water, extra medication, a pet first aid kit, a leash and collar, a carrier, food and water bowls, plastic bags, cat litter, and a litter pan. Keep in mind that the food, water, and medication should be rotated on a regular basis to ensure they don’t expire.

It’s also important to create a file with a copy of your pet’s medical records, important contact information (your veterinarian and pet-friendly hotels/shelters), and a recent photo in case you become separated. And then remember to keep this file updated and in a safe place.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Even the best plan isn’t effective if it isn’t communicated. It’s essential that you communicate your plan to family members and anyone else who might care for your pet, like a pet sitter.

While none of us like to think about disasters, having a plan in place will help ensure a safe outcome for your family and pets!