First published October 31, 2017 by The Mercury News

Tips on what to include in an emergency kit, and how much it will cost to be prepared

Are you and your pets prepared for a disaster?

California wildfires have been especially traumatic this year, and fire season isn’t over yet. If a fire or other disaster struck and you had to leave at a moment’s notice, what would you take?  Precious family photos and documents? What about your pets? If it’s not safe for you, it is not safe for them.

To help alleviate some of the stress that happens during an evacuation, we recommend creating and taking an emergency kit for each of your animals if you are forced to leave unexpectedly.

An emergency kit for your pets is fairly easy to assemble. In fact, many of these items you may already have in your house. You should keep your kit in an easy to grab container or bag, and periodically check and update as needed.

Here is a list of suggested items to keep in your kit and a general idea of what the costs may be:

  • One-week supply of food. Place food in a water-tight container and rotate it every three months to keep it fresh. If you use canned food, include a spare can opener in your kit.  Price varies
  • One-week supply of fresh water. If officials declare your household water unfit to drink, it’s also unsafe for your pets. Follow American Red Cross guidelines for storing emergency water for your family and your pets. The Centers for Disease Control recommends at least 1 gallon of water per day per pet.
  • Food and water bowls. There are many types of collapsible bowls available these days that are easy to pack and store in your kit. $2 and up.
  • Medication. If your animal takes medication, a replacement supply may not be easily available following a disaster. Price varies.
  • Vaccination records. Make copies to store in your bag.
  • Photographs.  Include pictures of you with your pets to prove ownership.
  • Photographs of just your pets. Include these in case you need to make “lost pet” flyers.
  • Temporary ID tags. If you’ve evacuated, use tags to mark down your temporary contact information and/or the phone number of a friend or relative unaffected by the crisis. $2 to $3.
  • Pet Carrier or leash for each animal. Caregivers of multiple cats or other small animals may want to use an EvacSak instead of a carrier, which is easy to store and use for transport. EvacSak prices begin at $49; small pet carriers at $5 and leashes at $4.

It’s good to have a pet first aid kit. Keep it in a waterproof container. ASPCApro’s recommendations include:

  • Absorbent gauze pads, $2 to $10
  • Adhesive tape, $3 to $6
  • Cotton balls or swabs, $3
  • Fresh 3 percent hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (always check with veterinarian or animal poison control expert before giving to your pet), $2
  • Ice pack, $3
  • Non-latex disposable gloves, $5
  • Scissors with blunt end, $9 to $14
  • Tweezers, $3
  • Over-the-counter antibiotic ointment, $3 to $10
  • Oral syringe or turkey baster, $2 to $6
  • Liquid dish-washing detergent (for bathing), $3
  • Towels, $5
  • Small flashlight, $5 to $10
  • Alcohol wipes, $3 to $6
  • Styptic powder, $9 to $13
  • Saline eye solution, $8
  • Artificial tear gel, $12
  • Phone number, clinic name, address of your veterinarian as well as local veterinary emergency clinics.
  • First aid kits for animals are available and are priced around $25 to $30, although you may have to add some items.

California is no stranger to major natural disasters, including fires, mudslides, flooding and earthquakes. Emergency planning is essential to keeping you and your pets safe when the next catastrophe strikes.

Learn more about Pet Disaster Preparedness with our 10 essential tips for making an emergency plan for your pets.