It's time to rehearse your evacuation.
You've determined the disaster threats in your area. You've created your disaster evacuation plan and have your and your dog's evacuation kits ready.
You have all his information and records together, and he has all his identification. You may have even created a buddy system with your neighbors.
You're almost ready to rehearse your evacuation. First, spend a morning with your evacuation buddy (or buddies) and your pets.
Review Your Plan
Each of you can walk the other through your plans, looking for weak areas.
Tour each other's home so you each know where the evacuation kits are for the pets there. Learn where the spare key is kept.
Look at the maps each of you has prepared. Are the routes clearly marked?
Do you have contact information for each destination?
Do you have each dog's or other pet's identification and medical records collected and secure in the evacuation kit?
Does each pet have an identification tag and tattoo or microchip?
If anything is missing, make a note and follow up on it as soon as you can.
Rehearse Your Evacuation
You've gone over all your plans. You have all the information in place. Now it's time to rehearse your evacuation. If you've planned to leave and travel together during a real disaster, rehearse together.
Have someone blow a whistle to simulate a phone or television warning to leave immediately.
Go through the steps exactly as you would if you were leaving for real.
Don't assume that you'll remember this or that when the time comes.
Think it through and practice it now so you don't have to think about it then, since you likely won't be thinking very clearly at that point.
Pack your car or truck, load your dog, help your buddy, and drive off together.
Drive your escape route, at least until you're out of town, or for 15 minutes if you live in a rural area.
Pull into a park or a parking lot and review what just happened. Go through your evacuation plans together.
Did you remember everything?
Did you make any wrong turns?
Did you get separated from your buddy due to a red light or traffic?
Note anything you missed or that needs work, return home and do it again.
Also rehearse your evacuation based on each of you being away from home when the call comes to evacuate. You have to collect your buddy's pet(s) and evacuation kit(s) and drive off.
Then your buddy has to collect your dog and his evacuation kit and drive off.
Did everything go okay?
If not, iron out the kinks.
If you're going to rehearse your evacuation on your own because you don't have a buddy, then you may have to take into account getting from work to home and then loading everything.
So start from work, developing the best route to take when the roads are likely to be clogged with fleeing residents.
You may have to do this over several commutes home. It could make rush hour a little more bearable for a few days as you learn the tricks of getting home as fast as you can.
Once you have your route home worked out, and marked on a map so you don't have to think about it while stressed out, drive the entire route, then pack up the car and head out.
Keep practicing until you're comfortable with all aspects of the drill.
An added bonus: your dog will become more comfortable as you rehearse your evacuation. If the real thing happens, she may be calmer than she would have been without the rehearsals.
Do an Annual Review and Rehearsal
If you live in an area with a disaster "season," you'll have a natural reminder every year to review your plan and rehearse your evacuation.
Determine if there are any changes to be made in your plan: a new highway is a more direct route out of the city, or maybe you have two dogs now instead of one, or your evacuation buddy moved away.
How will these changes affect your plan?
Rehearse the evacuation again until you're comfortable with the changes. Document everything you've changed so your plan is up-to-date.
If you don't have a "season," you'll have to remember to review your plan and rehearse the evacuation at least once a year. It's a great way to celebrate your dog's birthday!
Getting away is the most important thing you can do to ensure your and your dog's safety.
Don't take a chance with your lives.
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