If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, then you’re probably no stranger to having an evacuation plan and an emergency hurricane kit ready to go. At the start of the hurricane season, your local news likely reminds you frequently to gather your supplies and have your plans in place, just in case. But, do you know exactly what you need to do for your pets when a hurricane heads your way?
Hurricane pet safety can sometimes get overlooked as people hurry to ready themselves and their families for potential weather disasters. However, your pets have different needs from the humans in your family, so it’s vital to ensure you know precisely what to do for your furry friends, too, especially when the National Hurricane Center predicts an above-average hurricane season.
Keeping Your Pets Safe in a Hurricane
When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, it sparked a change in how rescue workers and other industries handled and treated pets in an emergency. In 2006, Congress passed the PETS Act, which stipulated that areas must provide aid to companion animals the same as for people if they wanted to receive federal funding for disaster relief. So, for example, hurricane shelters would have to accept pets and could no longer tell people they had to leave their pets behind.
However, if people evacuated with their animals, the PETS Act did not require hotels that were not pet-friendly to accept animals. However, many hotels might decide to do so on their own. Therefore, it’s always worth knowing your rights as a pet parent during a disaster event. It’s also up to you to ensure you do all you can to keep your pets safe by practicing the following steps.
Know Where to Go in Your Home and If You Leave
It’s wise to identify several safe locations within your home in case of a dangerous weather event. For example, choose a room without windows or anything else that can create flying debris. It’s also wise to select an area that offers opportunities to get higher up in case of flooding. For example, pick a room with shelving that your cat can climb or a high counter for your pup.
If you have to evacuate, you don’t want to spend time last minute trying to find pet-friendly hotels. Remember, the PETS Acts doesn’t require hotels to allow pets, despite popular belief. Therefore, as part of your hurricane preparedness plan, locate three potential pet-friendly hotels you can call to set up reservations. It’s wise to select hotels in three different directions from where you live since you never know which way a hurricane will blow.
If you plan to evacuate to a relative’s or friend’s house, make sure ahead of time that they are okay with you bringing along your pets. If you need to go somewhere that doesn’t allow pets, choose an emergency caregiver ahead of time to take in your pets for you.
Top Off Your Pet Supplies
Before hurricane season, make sure you’re well-stocked on your pet supplies, especially food, litter, potty pads (after all, your pal might not be able to go outside to use the bathroom), and medications. Even if a storm passes within a couple of days with minimal damage, you need to consider the possibility of things like power outages that could linger for a week or longer or fallen trees that could make roads impassable. You don’t want to run out of your pet’s medication or food at a time like this.
Also, when you’re stocking up on water for your family, the general recommendation is a gallon of water per person per day. Then, it’s usually advised to have at least a three-day supply, although you might want to shoot for a week. Don’t forget to count your pets in this number.
Alert Others That You Have Pets in the House
If you get stranded in your home during a weather event, don’t assume rescue workers will see your pets or know you have pets. You might be in a state where you’re unable to let them know. Therefore, place alert stickers in a front window where they are visible to others. You can order safety packs from the ASPCA or similar sites, letting people know there are animals inside. If you end up evacuating with your pets, make sure to note this on the sticker, so rescue workers don’t think there are animals still inside.
Make Sure Your Pet Has Proper ID and Is Microchipped
Your pet should always have current ID tags, and it’s a good idea for your pet to have a microchip. However, if they don’t, it’s worth updating your pal’s tags and getting them microchipped before hurricane season gets in full swing. Also, when you get your pet chipped, make sure you register the microchip as well.
Keep Your Pets Indoors
Bring your pets inside during storms and keep them inside at all times, no matter what.
Pack a Pet Emergency Kit
It's essential to create a hurricane pet safety kit to know you have everything you need in one place during a hurricane. The following items should be at-the-ready and easily accessible:
- A seven-day supply of your pet’s food
- A seven-day supply of water for your pet
- Your pet should already have their collar on with proper ID and rabies tag. However, it is worth having a spare collar and ID tag, just in case.
- A leash (this one is reflective for extra visibility) for your dog and one for your cat, too, if you’ve worked with leash training your cat
- Your pet’s medical records and ample supply of any medications, including flea and tick prevention
- A carrier for your pet
- Updated shot records and rabies registration, as well as your pet’s microchip number and registry information
- A pet first-aid kit, which should include things like gauze, tape, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, rubber gloves, wet wipes, and scissors
- Extra litter, a spare litter box ready-to-go for travel, paper towels, trash bags, potty pads, cleaning supplies
- A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes
- Your pet’s favorite toys, bedding, a lick mat to help ease stress, and something with your scent on it to go inside your pal’s carrier to help them stay calm
Extra considerations for Evacuating with Pets
Sometimes, an impending hurricane calls for people to evacuate the area. You need to be ready for this possible scenario if your local officials recommend or mandate an evacuation. However, traveling with pets comes with a whole other set of considerations. Therefore, if you need to evacuate with pets, keep these points in mind:
- Make sure your pet emergency kit is travel-ready.
- Have the phone numbers for the pet-friendly hotels you preselected front-and-center or saved in your phone so that you can make reservations quickly.
- A few weeks before hurricane season, it’s worth getting your pet used to the carrier they will be in during the journey if they aren’t already used to it. This will make the whole experience less stressful for them and for you.
- It might be worth working with your cat on a leash ahead of time to make a long road trip more manageable. Otherwise, set your cat up in an extra-large crate that has a littler box on one side of it so they can relieve themselves during the journey
Of course, as a pet parent, you hope you never have to go through any dangerous situations with your furry friend. However, it’s always wise to be prepared for the possibility. Check out the rest of our blog for more helpful tips on ways to take care of your faithful companions. In addition, when you take the time to learn about your pets, you’re more prepared to keep them healthy and happy.