How to keep your pet safe in emergency situations, natural disasters

July 15 is National Pet Fire Safety Day, and the Austin Fire Department (AFD) wants to remind pet parents of the importance of having an emergency kit and plan in place. 

To make sure your pet stays safe in the event of a natural disaster or emergency, include them in your emergency plan. shares the following tips on preparing for the unexpected:

Make a plan

When creating a plan for emergencies, it's important to remember that if you are told to evacuate, your pet has to do the same. Leaving your pets behind can put them in danger. 

What to include in your plan: 

  • Evacuation locations: The majority of public shelters and hotels do not allow pets, so find out a list of safe places you can take your pets.
  • Buddy system: If you are unable to care for your pets, develop a plan with neighbors, friends or family to make sure your pet is safe.
  • Microchip your pet: Microchips help locate information on a pet's owner. Keep your address and phone number up to date and include contact information for an emergency contact outside your immediate area.
  • Contact local officials: For additional information on caring for your pet during an emergency situation, ask your local emergency management office.

Build a pet emergency kit

In addition to keeping a family emergency kit on hand, create one for your pet so they have access to their daily necessities if needed. 

Items to include:

  • Several days' supply of food, stored in an airtight and waterproof container
  • Several days' supply of water and a water bowl
  • Extra supply of any medicine your pet takes daily, stored in a waterproof container
  • First aid kit to meet your pets medical needs
  • Collar with ID tag and a harness/leash, include a backup of these items
  • Waterproof container containing pet's registration and important documents, (keep a copy digitally as well)
  • Traveling bag, crate or kennel for each pet
  • Grooming items
  • Sanitation items including cat littler if needed, paper towels, newspapers, trash bags
  • A picture of you and your pet together, this helps document ownerships and helps others identify you and your pet if you get separated
  • Familiar items such as toys, treats, blankets

Pet fire safety

Austin Fire Department says that each yeah more than 500,000 pets are affected by house fires, and 1,000 of those are started by pets themselves. 

The most common way pets start fires is by trying to reach something left on top of the stove, and accidentally hitting the stove knobs. AFD says covering your stove knobs is a safe way to help prevent that from happening. 

Residents can also help prevent fires from starting by reducing open flame exposure, securing wiring and avoiding using No Glass bowls on wooden decks. 

To prepare for a fire, AFD recommends keeping your pets in mind when developing an emergency kit and plan. Residents are also encouraged to keep pet crates and bedding near entrances or exits in to the home and know where their pets like to hide. Smoke alarms should also be working. 

AFD provides and installs FREE smoke alarms. Call 512-974-0299 to inquire about smoke alarm installation.

In the event of a fire, pet owners should grab their pets leashes or carriers and leave quickly. If you cannot find your pet, AFD says to let the firefighters take care of the searching. Do not go back inside. 

To see more pet safety tips, click here.