Creating an Emergency Evacuation Plan That Includes Your Pets

Emergencies happen. When you least expect. And you want to be ready when it does. An evacuation plan is a necessity for every home. You could live in an area where fires, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, flooding, terrorism or other disasters are a possibility.

Here in Florida we are at risk for floods and hurricane related storm damage. Creating an emergency plan for your home and rehearsing it with household members and kids is common practice, but does your emergency plan offer evacuation assistance for your pets? Here’s some tips to consider when creating a new evacuation plan for your home, or adding your pets to your emergency evacuation plan.Start with your regular evacuation plan. Count your pets and their common locations. Assign a pet(s) evacuation to an able bodied member of the house based on location. Remember evacuating a pet, especially one that isn’t stationary to one existing place, can be tricky.  

Everyone should be clear on what to do, or how to act during an evacuation, including available routes, and that includes assigning one parent or adult to the pets.

Try to remain simple and basic as possible. You shouldn’t be actually changing much in your overall evacuation plan. Keeping to the basics allows the other members of the house and the children to focus on their part of the evacuation plan, so there’s no confusion during a high-stress moment when time is of the essence.

Because a pet may not always be in the same room at all times, each room should have a check for animals. In other words, if responsible person A is in bedroom 3, they should be familiar with their evacuation plan prior to adding animals. Evacuation plans are almost always base on location. So prior to person A leaving bedroom 3 and following their evacuation plan-  they should check the room for any pets and then move on to vacate the building. 


Do not encourage your children to look for pets. It is important that the children in the home trust that the adults will do everything they can. Evacuating pets should strictly for the adults so that your children’s only focus is getting to their designated safe spot. 

Keep evacuation maps and pet carriers readily accessible. If you need to evacuate, you should know exactly where every important item is or discuss possibily improvises if needed based on locations within your house. If you pets require carriers, try to keep them handy in places that you can access easily.

Practice your plan with all of your household members. Include your pets in your home evacuation drills. It’ll help you see how they will respond and make changes to your plan if necessary. Getting your dog out of a window may not be as simple as you think!

Understand that in certain emergencies, pets may be scared, so be prepared in case you get separated from your pets. No matter how much you drill your evacuation plan, it’s always possible that a dog or cat will run off while you’re focusing on keeping your family safe. A microchip or a GPS-compatible tag may help you find your pets once it’s safe to return to the area. 

Last, consider posting a small permanent note on the corner of a front window of a door, or glass on a screened door, back door, garage door or similar- which lists your pets for any emergency personnel to help later. This lets first responders know that you have pets, and can help your pet if they get loose during the emergency. 

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.