By Angie Sullivan You consider your pets a part of the family, but have you stored the necessary preparedness items for your four footed friends Once you have ensured the safety and preparedness of each family member, it is time to turn your attention to the loyal family pet. Believe it or not, preparing your pets for an emergency or disaster is very similar to preparing your children. They need many of the same basics, like food, water, and shelter. As with children, your pet’s disposition may change dramatically after a disaster or during an emergency. Pets often become confused and agitated. Staying calm will help your pets stay calm. Don’t panic, but speak firmly and calmly. Before the disaster strikes, be sure you have a few things in order. First, be sure to stay current with your animal’s vaccinations. Take photos of each animal, being sure to include any distinguishing marks and store those photos along with any medical records or other important papers in a resealable plastic bag. Be sure your pet has a properly fitted collar, a current license and identification tags. This is important even for animals that rarely go outdoors. Have an emergency kit for each pet. Make sure you have and can easily use a carrier or cage for each animal. During an emergency situation, try to keep your animals with you if possible. If you must leave your pet, be sure to leave enough food and water to last several days should you not be able to return quickly. Simply filling a bathtub with a few inches of water might keep your pet hydrated until you are able to return. If you are taking your pet with you, be sure you take an emergency kit for them as well. This kit should include food, treats, and water. Include appropriate food and water dishes along with anything necessary to prepare the food, like a can opener. Pack blankets and towels along with a brush or other hygiene items. Sanitation items like litter, or plastic bags for picking up after the animals will be essential to keep everyone healthy and happy. A few familiar toys will help distract your pet and release tension. Packing a small first aid kit for your animal is also a great idea. This kit might include a few days worth of medications or vitamins your pet normally takes along with a pet first aid manual. Include a card with the phone numbers and addresses of local vet offices. A small stash of tape, scissors, gauze, antibacterial soap and hydrogen peroxide can come in handy if your pet is injured. Whether your pet is furry, flies, or has fins, they are often considered another member of the family! By taking these small steps, you will also be able to provide for the needs of each of your treasured family pets!