We learn these things in grade school: the importance of having first aid, food, and water in case of an earthquake. We also learn to go under a sturdy surface that can protect us from falling objects and to stay away from windows.
It's vital to understand these things so we minimize fatalities. It's also good to learn what earthquakes are, scientifically speaking. Can you imagine if we thought it was some other unidentified phenomena from outer space? Knowing the science behind these natural disasters makes life easier for kids to deal with. At least it did for me growing up in California.
But how many of us are prepared to handle our dogs during an earthquake–the other little kid in our life?
Dogs may be wondering why the floor and walls are shaking. Where that rumble is coming from. Why things all falling over. Why the kids are crying. Why sirens and helicopters are causing a frenzy in the neighborhood. A natural phenomena like an earthquake is impossible to explain to a dog.
What I remember
I was six years old, dogless, and had only experienced tiny earthquakes. The kind where everyone goes, "Did you feel that?! That was cool!" You forget about these earthquakes 5 minutes after they happen.
However, I remember the Northridge, CA earthquake from 1994 very vividly. It was a 6.7 magnitude earthquake with one of the fastest peaking ground velocities ever recorded in North America. We only lived 9 miles away from the epicenter. THAT, was not cool.
I remember cereal boxes literally shooting from out of the kitchen cabinets and lamps flying across the living room. Knowing everything I knew about earthquakes at the time, I said to myself there is no way an earthquake could do this. I honestly thought something bigger was happening. Something God like.
Luckily, my parents handled the situation really well by not going into a serious panic. There were hundreds of aftershocks throughout the next couple days so my parents decided it would be best to camp outside until local authorities said it was OK. We had canned food, firewood, and charcoal for cooking and keeping warm, bottled water; we knew just about everyone in the neighborhood. We did alright.
What stuck with me
One thing I remember were all the loose dogs running around. Many dogs I was able to recognize as local neighborhood dogs while others I've never seen in a day in my life. Some were limping, a few had injuries to their faces, others were starting to look hungry.
These dogs all had one thing in common: they were all lost and scared. You can see it in their faces. Their body language wreaked of disparity. They needed an explanation. They were fleeing, and this is never a good thing for a dog.
Prepping The House
Prepping the house and making sure your dog is safe is the first step in ensuring dogs don't escape or cause bodily injury to themselves. If you allow your dog to escape there is a high chance of your dog trying to run through everything in hulk mode. There is no stopping a dog who is in this mode. Adrenaline is high, logic is not processing, and they trust just about no one.
- Make sure your dog sleeps in the same room you do at night.
- Always close or lock doggy-doors at night. This will keep your dog from running outside in a panic and keeping unwanted guests out at night–earthquake or no earthquake.
- Ensure your dog's bed or crate is away from windows or heavy furniture and shelving.
- Ensure your perimeter fence is tall and free of openings. Even the smallest opening can be a point of escape for a dog full of adrenaline.
- Keep your dog's house or bed away from weak walls/fencing, windows, or shelving/cabinetry.
Similar to human survival kits, the first thing that should be in any dog earthquake kit is food and water. The second is essential for comfort and improving chances of making it out of an earthquake without serious ailments: first aid.
However, food and water stand out differently for dogs. Dogs as you are most aware have a different diet than humans. Second, dogs' drinking anatomy is not designed to drink out of a water bottle.
You want to avoid feeding your dog human food, or foods that give your dog an upset stomach (sometimes canned dog food). That last thing you need is for your dog to vomit or suffer from diarrhea; especially during a time when one is trying to conserve energy. But in serious situations where they need to eat, food is food.
Water needs to be properly served if you want to conserve every last drop. Giving dogs water from a water bottle tip will not give dogs the best chanc of conserving or drinking all the water they can. Always serve in a bowl.
First Aid - essentials
- Dog first aid guide (in the case where Veterinarian care is unreachable)
- Assortment of bandages and gauze – be sure you have them in different sizes and shapes
- Alcohol pads
- Sterile saline solution
- Vet wrap
- Adhesive tape
- Antiseptic wipes – in all sizes – even as big as your dog
- Blanket – emergency warmth blanket
- Self-activating cold pack
- Self-activating hot pack
- Scissors with blunt ends
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Disposable gloves
- Nail trimmer
Additional Useful First Aid
- Needle nose pliers
- Ear cleaning solution
- Rectal thermometer – and cleaning solution for thermometer
- QuickClot (hemostatic agent that helps stop bleeding)
- Canned dog food can last up to 2 years (always look for "Best if used by" labeling). However, after opening wet food starts to break down immediately and is usually never wise to serve 2-3 days if not refrigerated.
- Specialty survival air-packed dog food is air vacuumed dog food that can last up to 5 years stored. After opening, the food is completely safe to feed on weeks end.
- Collapsible bowl to serve food and water.
- Dogs can drink from the same water source–water is water and dogs need it just as much as humans. Filtered water for dogs is ideal, but avoid the tap until the city says it's OK.
- Use a collapsible dog bowl to conserve water and allow dogs to drink efficiently
As always, I encourage all dog owners to take a first aid pet class. The information you can learn is priceless and knowing a few tips can be life and death for dogs in most cases.