Manhattan, KS— Severe weather season is approaching and Susan Nelson, veterinarian and clinical professor at the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center in the College of Veterinary Medicine, says to include pets in your family emergency preparedness plans.

“Pets should never be left at home during an emergency evacuation,” Nelson said. “Creating a disaster plan for your pet entails the same steps taken to make your family plan.”

Nelson recommends the following when formulating your preparedness plans:

• Know what disasters could happen in your area. The type of disaster will dictate if you can shelter at home or if you will need to leave your home and find shelter elsewhere. In Kansas, disasters can include but are not limited to blizzards, ice storms, fires, floods, nuclear accidents, tornados, earthquakes and chemical spills.

“If you do need to leave your home, be aware that not all public shelters or hotels, relatives or friends will allow pets, so have several alternatives,” Nelson said.

• As part of your plan, develop a checklist and make a pet evacuation kit. Nelson said to consider how you will actually transport your pets — on a leash or in a sturdy carrier — and where you will you go, as well as alternative routes to get to your destination as some roads may be impassable or closed.

“You should also have contact numbers for hotels/boarding facilities, relatives and your veterinarian in your kit that are stored in a water-proof bag.”

• Include a pet first-aid kit and first-aid guidebook.

• Have food sources ready, such as pop-top cans or small bags of dry food, as well as bottles of water to use for drinking or taking medications. Nelson recommends at least two weeks’ worth of medications in your pet evacuation kit and one week of food and water. Rotate all items every few months for freshness.