The BC SPCA is offering tips to help your pets during emergencies.

How pet-prepared are you for emergencies?

Hot weather and smoke from forest fires prompt BC SPCA to get people thinking about their animals' welfare.

With Metro Vancouver and much of B.C. covered with a thick haze of forest fire smoke, the BC SPCA is encouraging animal guardians to refresh their emergency pet preparedness.

Several new wildfires as well as old ones have caused evacuation orders and states of emergency in several B.C. communities, prompting people to leave their homes as quickly as possible.

“When you’re ordered to evacuate, you need to do it as soon as possible, and people don’t necessarily think about their pet in an emergency situation until it’s too late,” said BC SPCA general manager of community relations Lorie Chortyk. “You don’t have time to gather up everything you need if you have to get out of your home right away.”

Evacuations are usually a busy time for staff and volunteers at the province’s BC SPCA branches, as they provide extra shelter, pet food and pet-related equipment such as crates and leashes for pet guardians and animals.

“When you’re in a hurry, it can be easy to forgot feeding bowls, food, leashes, everything,” Chortyk said. “That’s why it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared for any emergency. People love their pets but it often doesn’t sink in that an emergency can happen at any time.”

Having an emergency pet kit handy is key, as well as ensuring your pet is already wearing a collar with up-to-date contact information, Chortyk notes.

Keeping your pets inside the house so you don’t need to search for them is also a good idea, as is having emergency pet boarding plans in place.

Items to include in an emergency kit for your pet(s) include:

• A seven-day supply of food and water

• Identification tag and collar

• Sturdy crate and/or carrier

• Pet first aid kit

• Blanket/plastic bags

• Leash, harness

• Food and water bowls (collapsible are great)

• Litter box and litter for cats

• A manual can opener

• A copy of your pet’s current vaccination history

• Any special medications and instructions

“No one likes to think an emergency like a wildfire or an earthquake will happen,” said Chortyk. “But in the event it does, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared – for themselves and for their beloved family pets.”

For more information, visit spca.bc.ca