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Prepare Your Family for a Natural Disaster 
 
by Rita Templeton September 09, 2005

Plan for your pets.

If you have pets, you’re going to want to make sure they’re well-protected in an emergency, just like the rest of your family. A word of caution: take care of your pets last. Although you love them like family members, make sure your human family is taken care of first, and then see to your pets – only if you have plenty time. As unfortunate as it is, it isn’t uncommon for people to die trying to rescue their animals from an emergency situation.

  • Identify and arrange for shelter. Most pets (with the exception of Seeing Eye dogs and other service animals) are not permitted in emergency shelters, so you’ll have to be prepared to have an alternate place to keep your pets. Research area kennels and pet boarding places – and a few that are out-of-area, depending on how widespread the emergency is. Keep a list of these places and their current contact information. If you’re not comfortable leaving your pet at an animal shelter or kennel, keep a list of pet-friendly hotels and motels.
  • Make sure that all your pets’ veterinary records are accessible and up-to-date, and that their vaccinations are current.
  • If you have large animals, such as horses, make sure they can be identified as yours. Set up transportation for them, such as a truck and trailer, and see that they have an adequate supply of food and water set aside for emergencies. Plan ahead of time where they would go, and make sure that the destination has the correct facilities to house them.

Keep track of your vital records.

You should have all of your important papers in one place. Original marriage licenses, divorce decrees and birth certificates should go in a safe deposit box; obtain certified copies to keep with your personal records at home in a fire-safe, locked box. Have at least two keys made for each box, and keep one with you and give the other to a trustworthy person that doesn’t live with you (if you don’t have a family member or friend that you trust that much, give the key to a legal representative). Put important documents in plastic sleeves to protect them and distinguish them from less important items. If you have records that are kept only on a computer, make printouts. Documents and records you should be sure to keep safe include:

  • Marriage certificates and divorce decrees
  • Titles, registrations and deeds for properties and vehicles
  • ID records such as passports and driver licenses
  • Mortgage and loan information
  • Social Security cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Insurance policies
  • Credit card statements
  • Income tax information
  • Trusts
  • Wills
  • Bank account records
  • Investment records

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