Tornado DamageThe first five months of 2011 brought much destruction; including tornados, floods and fires in the United States and the devastating tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan.

Even the recent storms and tornadoes right here in Knoxville can cause problems for local pets. Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere and can take many different forms.

The following eight tips will help you prepare for a disaster.

1. Understand the possibilities. Recognize the different types of natural and man-made disasters that can occur in your area and know how to effectively plan for them.

2. Make decisions early. Different disasters require different courses of action. The sooner you create a disaster plan, the more time you have to prepare.

3. Update identification. Make sure your pet wears current identification at all times that includes his name, rabies tag and your cell phone number since you will not be at home.

4. Your pet’s history.
Create a file for each pet that contains health history, vaccination dates and a recent photo. Keep the file Flood Watersin a safe and secure place.

5. Research animal-friendly places.
Know where you can take your pet in the event of an emergency. Evacuation shelters and pet-friendly hotels outside a 60-mile radius of your home are good places to start.

6. Stock up on emergency supplies.
Keep extra leashes, bowls, newspapers, trash bags, cat litter, litter pans and at least a five-day supply of pet food and water on hand.

7. Get a carrier.
Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each pet. Carriers should be large enough for the pet to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably.

8. Communicate your plan.
Make sure that the other people you rely on for the pets in your care are privy to the specific pet-care plans of your clients in case you are away from home when a disaster strikes.

Credit: Pet Sitters International