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It's 5:30 p.m. and you just got home from work when there is a
knock at the door. It is a police officer explaining that you
have 15 minutes to evacuate your family and pets from your home as
a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed close to your
property. What could you grab in your house in 15 minutes
that is necessary for your family and pet's livelihood?
Dr. Deb Zoran, associate professor and member of the Veterinary
Emergency Response Team at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), presented the previous
example and asked "Could you gather up your personal documents,
your pet's rabies documents, you pet's food, enough clothing and
personal belongings for yourself in 15 minutes and not forget
To ensure nothing is forgotten, Zoran recommends a preparedness
plan for family and pets in case emergencies or natural disasters
occur. She said this plan should include discussing locations
for evacuation, meeting sites incase family members are separated
or cell phones do not work, and who is taking care of the
pets. Zoran strongly encouraged not leaving a pet in an
"Rule of thumb that pet owners should always use is that if you
are evacuating, take your pet with you. Don't assume that you
will be able to come home to take care of them because you probably
won't," she said.
Zoran suggested people prepare a "go bag," a little bag that is
packed with enough clothing, medicine, food, water, and other
necessities. This bag should also include important documents
such as IDs and cash incase power is out at ATMs and banks.
"The other thing that needs to be in your 'go bag' is a little
stash of cash because otherwise you may not be able to pay for gas,
food, or anything if something truly monstrous occurs where the
power shuts off," she said.
There should also be a "go bag" for pets as well. Zoran
said this should include their carrier, leashes, food, and
water. For cats, this would also include a litter box and
litter. As with people, the "go bag" should include the pet's
vaccination and medical records in addition to identification
documents in case of separation. Zoran said this would
include information about micro chipping or photographs of the
For both humans and pets, Zoran said the "go bag" should contain
supplies for three to five days.
Remember, the emergency situation is not always a train
derailment. Other disasters known to Texas are hurricanes,
tornadoes, wildfires, and earthquakes. A preparedness plan
can help in all emergencies and natural disasters.
"The truth of the matter is preparing helps you think more
logically and clearly because you know what to take and where
things are," Zoran said.
Zoran explained that all disasters are different so it is
important to be able to adapt to the situation.
"The [preparedness] plan works until disaster hits and then what
do you do? You adapt to the situation. … If you have a plan
and an idea, it is much easier to adapt," she said.
If you are interested in learning more about "go bags" and
preparedness, Dr. Zoran suggests the following web sites:
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