Dealing with hurricanes and other natural disasters is an unpleasant part of life for many people. The key to ensuring that both you and your furry residents stay safe is having an emergency plan in place and ready to go.
Fortunately, weather events like hurricanes usually have a day or two of warning, so you'll have time to prepare the necessary supplies you'll need. Courtney Belden Marsh, DVM, who lived through a hurricane as a veterinary student, and disaster preparedness pro Lisandra Pagan, Ph.D., share with us some important tips for keeping your pets safe, no matter what blows through town.
1. Have Food, Water, Medication and Other Necessities Ready
Dr. Marsh: I would try to have at least two weeks' worth of food, water and medicine available and in water- and airtight containers. And definitely keep supplies like food, bottled water, any necessary medications and pet travel supplies like a carrier, leash, vet documents and food bowls on hand. One other thing to consider would be if any critical medications need refrigeration — like insulin — try to find a battery-operated cooler.
2. Keep Pets With You in a Safe Room
Dr. Marsh: Pets should definitely be with you so you can make sure they are safe, and also have them nearby if you need to make any quick exits.
Dr. Pagan: You should find a place like a hallway where you have walls covering you and you are not exposed to flying objects. If the room has windows, protect them as much as you can with things like plywood and shutters.
3. Use a Window Sticker to Alert Authorities to Pets
Dr. Pagan: Also include any information on the sticker that could help first responders find and comfort the pet. For example: location, breed, medical conditions and veterinary contact information.
4. Keep Carriers and Leashes Ready
Dr. Marsh: A crate could also be very helpful to contain your pet during the storm in the event that they get scared and want to run away or hide. And it protects her if your home is damaged during the storm.
5. Have a List of Medications, Recent Pics and Vaccination Records Handy
Dr. Marsh: A list of medicines your pet is taking, her medical conditions, current vaccines, rabies certificate and veterinary contact is important to have and should be kept in a waterproof sleeve. A microchip is always helpful in these situations to match lost pets with their owners.
Dr. Pagan: If pets become lost or separated from you, it might be necessary to prove you are the owner using recent photos. You can print one of each pet and place them in a waterproof bag. Also, have pictures on your phone. Most of the facilities that shelter pets will require evidence of up-to-date vaccinations, and tags are not always counted as proof because they may lack expiration dates.
6. Keep a List of Pet-friendly Hotels
Dr. Pagan: Contact them to get clear on the breeds accepted, requirements, facilities and rules for accepting pets. You can also contact veterinary boarding facilities and inquire about sheltering pets during natural disasters. If you cannot find a place in your area, contact friends and family out of town and secure some shelter for your pet.
7. Run Evacuation Drills
Dr. Pagan: I always recommend practicing the plan. It will give you and your family the opportunity to test and try what works, what doesn't and what needs improvement.
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By Joan Casanova, Bonnie Plants,
Photographs courtesy of Bonnie Plants, Inc.
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