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Make a plan to be safe

Natural or other disasters can be catastrophic, but planning ahead reduces the likelihood of death or injury.

Keeping your family safe and preparing for a natural or other disaster requires some advance planning. Many of the things you do to protect the humans in your home are also beneficial to the animals in your family. But there are a few extra precautions to take if you have pets.

Externally monitored smoke detectors are more effective in an emergency than battery operated smoke alarms, particularly to ensure the safety of your pet when there are no people in the house. Whatever sort of smoke and carbon monoxide monitor you use, be sure that it is functioning. Check it regularly and replace the batteries twice a year when you change your clocks in spring and fall.

Have a plan that everyone in your family is familiar with to respond in the event of an emergency and ensure that everyone in your household — including companion animals — are cared for. Be sure everyone knows where to meet after safely exiting in the event of a fire or earthquake.

Have a sticker or a note on your door letting first responders know that there are pets inside.

Do an audit of your home regularly to identify any potential hazards like loose wires, space heaters, small appliances or other things that could create hazards.

Puppies especially, and some cats as well as rabbit and small mammals, like to chew. Be vigilant about where you leave your pet unattended and be sure that wires and cords are unplugged and secured in order to avoid injury or fire.

Never leave a candle or other flame unattended. Pets are notoriously curious. Wagging tails or curious cats can accidentally knock over a candle or set the animal on fire.

Make sure all your pets have updated identification information like microchips, tattoos or ID tags.

Bring pets inside and keep them close during a potential emergency (such as extreme weather, earthquakes or fireworks) because unexpected noises or tremors can make pets disoriented and cause them to bolt.

Keep an emergency kit, leashes or kennels close to an exit in the event rapid evacuation is necessary.

Have assembled about a week’s worth of canned and dry food, a pet first-aid kit, bottled water, litter box and litter for cats, food and water bowls, records of veterinary records, flashlight, blankets and recent photos of your pets in case you are separated and need to alert the public. Make sure animal toys and beds, or whatever makes them less anxious, are also ready to go. These can help ease some of the inevitable anxiety created by an emergency.