How to Prepare to Keep You and Your Pets Safe in a Disaster

Posted by Michelle, Founder of on 19th Sep 2015

Make a Plan for You and Your Pets!This year marks the 10-year Anniversary of the Katrina hurricane. As we re-visit this disaster it starts you thinking what should one do to prepare for an unforeseen emergency? We reached out to David Mandell, the Deputy Director for the City of Annapolis in the Office of Emergency Management to provide some insights on pet preparedness in an emergency situation.

1. What are some emergency circumstances for which people should create a plan for themselves as well as their pet(s)?

The public should create emergency and disaster plans for their families and their pets to include everything they need to shelter-in-place or evacuate for up to a week. These circumstances can be brought about due to severe weather, power outages, civil unrest, pandemic outbreak, and acts of terrorism. In the City of Annapolis, emergency plans are most likely to be activated as a result of severe weather that causes flooding, wind and water damage, and access issues due to debris or snow and ice. Events such as Hurricane Katrina (2005) proved that emergency and disaster planning and preparedness for humans and animals need to be carefully considered. It was estimated that 1,800 people died and millions were displaced during Katrina. Thousands of animals were also abandoned, stranded or died due to the storm and aftermath. No one should lose their lives or their pets due to a lack of readiness when there are plenty of resources to support and assist families before, during, and after a disaster.

2. Are there basic items a person should have in their home to make them better prepared to handle an emergency with their companion animal?

It is essential to include your pets as part of a comprehensive family emergency plan. Companion animals are defined as dogs, cats, birds and pocket pets such as guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice and ferrets, as well as service animals. People should first make sure they are prepared themselves, in order to be able to provide for their pets during an emergency or disaster. Individuals should plan for up to a week's worth of provisions and supplies. It should include food that can be stored and eaten without a power source, extra water for drinking and basic utilities, all necessary medications filled and accessible, blankets and warm clothes for cold weather/fans and water for hot weather, flashlights/lanterns and extra batteries, and a back-up generator if applicable.

Pet preparedness for an emergency or disaster contains similar concerns for basic necessities. Pet owners should keep an extra store of food, water and all necessary medications for their pets for up to a week. Provide a clean, warm, dry and secure area for pets to sleep and rest. Also, provide an area where animals can use the bathroom either inside or out, that will not compromise hygiene or allow external contaminants to enter the home, if public health concerns are present.

Pet owners should also prepare a waterproof documentation folder that is easily obtainable for families and their pets in the event of an emergency or disaster. This folder should include identification and ownership documents, medical records or pertinent medical information, legal directives, and other important documents for both the pet and pet owner.

Get Prepared, Get the App!

3. Are there resources people should be aware of to assist them with their companion animals in an emergency situation?

Absolutely! The City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management provides resources and support for people and pets in emergency and disaster situations. The public should download the free Annapolis emergency management mobile app, "Prepare Me Annapolis." The app is available from Apple and Google Play. It provides emergency notifications, and also includes access to useful everyday resources such as traffic cameras and school closings. Also, individuals should visit and register for CodeRED, the community notification system that sends phone calls, e-mails, or text messages in the event of emergency situations. The Annapolis Office of Emergency Management also provides a non-emergency Annapolis Call Center number that is only activated in the event of City wide emergencies or events that disrupt normal City business.

The City’s local Companion Animal Shelter is Annapolis High School; which is designated for both people and pets. Additional area resources include your local SPCA, and Annapolis Call Center (when activated). Contact information for a few of these resources are listed below.

City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management

199 Taylor Avenue

Annapolis, MD 21401

(410) 216-9167

Call Center (410) 260-2211 (when activated)


Twitter: @AnnapolisOEM

Companion Animal Shelter- Annapolis High School

2700 Riva Road

Annapolis, MD 21401

SPCA of Anne Arundel County

1815 Bay Ridge Avenue

Annapolis, MD 21401

(410) 268-4388

Thank you David for sharing these important tips and resources! If you don't live in Annapolis, Maryland, please reach out in your area to find similar resources to help you prepare. Otherwise is a good place to start. Nobody wants an emergency situation to happen in their world, but everyone should be prepared!