Pet BOB, Part 4: Medications & Records

This is Part 4 of a 6-part series on building an emergency BOB (bug-out bag) for you and your animals.

Medications

A first-aid kit can be a lifesaver during an emergency situation.  A good kit contains compress dressings, adhesive bandages (Bandaids), adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, aspirin, a breathing barrier (for CPR), instant hot and cold packs, non-latex gloves, hydrocortisone ointment or cream, scissors, a roller bandage (Ace bandage), a triangular bandage (used to make a sling), sterile gauze pads, a thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass), and a pair of tweezers.  Extra items include alternative painkillers, an oral allergy medication, an emergency allergy medication (like an Epi-pen), a sewing/stitch kit, cotton q-tips, safety pins, and other safety items like a glow stick, a compass, and a whistle.  This kit by Swiss Safe will pack securely in your BOB and weighs just over a pound; it also includes a secondary “mini” kit.

Medications may be a crucial part of your life or your animals’ lives.  They may be something that requires a daily application, or perhaps they are weekly or monthly.  Regardless of their usage schedule, however, not having them during an emergency can make the situation infinitely worse.

Many veterinarians will be happy to supply an extra week’s worth of medications for your emergency kit.  Most of these medications are not regulated as strictly as human medications are, making it easy to purchase extra.

Check with your veterinarian on substitutes, as well, because some pet medications are identical to their human counterparts, except for dosage.  For example, Benadryl can be used for pets with allergies, but needs to be used in much lower dosages than humans consume.  Find out what the appropriate dosage is for your pet and write it with permanent marker on the bottle for your BOB.  Make sure to monitor expiration dates so you can exchange medications before they expire.

The simplest way to stockpile prescription medications for an emergency kit is to refill prescriptions a couple of days early – most pharmacies will allow prescriptions to be refilled early because they don’t want customers coming in the day they run out.  Doing this for a few months will allow you to stock up seven to ten days’ worth of your medications.  However, note that each time you do this, you should swap out medications in your BOB with the fresher ones just obtained from the refill, otherwise you run the risk of retaining expired medication.

Don’t forget to include the equipment you may need for medications!  Syringes, measuring spoons, and pill pocket treats are easy to forget, but they are necessary instruments for safe administration of medications.  If you have a diabetic in the family, a travel kit-sized glucose monitor may literally be a lifesaver.

Medical Records

In conjunction with medications for you and your animals, you should keep up-to-date copies of medical and veterinary records in your BOB.  These serve multiple purposes: they can help you get treatment from doctors and veterinarians that are not your normal practitioners; they are a backup of your records in case your doctor or veterinarian lost them or they are inaccessible due to power outages or equipment damage; they act as reminders for what medications and what dosages you or your animals may need; and they are a form of identification, allowing authorities to verify your identity as well as the ownership of your animals.

Vaccines and vaccine histories are critically important for your animals.  During emergencies, you will not be able to control what your animals come in contact with.  Feral pets or livestock often are not vaccinated and carry diseases that can be deadly to your animals if they’re not up-to-date on their vaccines.

Make sure you update your records regularly.  If you are an infrequent visitor to a clinic, or you only do annual checkups for your animals, the best time to update your records is immediately after each visit.  If you have regular appointments, you should update your records monthly or whenever there is a major change (such as adding or eliminating a medication, undergoing a surgery, etc.).

Other Records

Medical records are not the only records you should keep.  Keep up-to-date photographs of your family – including your pets and livestock! – in your BOB to help authorities verify your identity and to help reunite separated family members during or after an emergency.  If you, your family, or your animals have scars or other distinctive markings, make sure to document them with the photos; be aware that markings like fur or hair color may be damaged during an emergency to a point where they cannot be used for identification purposes, but scars or birthmarks are less likely to be damaged.  If your animals have microchips, keep a copy of their registration to help with identification.  If your animals respond to a given name (or nickname), include that on the back of their photo to help others locate a missing animal.

Photocopies of important documents, such as property titles, passports or other photo identification, birth certificates, and social security cards, can save you a lot of trouble during recovery operations after an emergency.  If you have a storage unit, having some form of identification will allow you to enter and retrieve any belongings; you will not be allowed in unless you can prove who you are.

A copy of your most recent bank statement may assist you in obtaining financing or supplies.  Stores, hotels, and small business owners may be willing to take credit card information for later processing during a power outage if you can prove that you have the money to cover the purchase; if you do this, make sure to keep a balance sheet to show how you have spent any of the money.  You may also want to pack a couple hundred dollars in cash.

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