When a storm is on the way, Florida residents are often in such a hurry to prepare themselves, their families, and their homes that it’s easy to forget the furry members of the family. Pets often sense approaching storms long before we humans do and it can cause them a lot of stress. How can you help your pet to stay safe and calm when a hurricane is on the way? Keep reading to find out.
As in the previous two posts in this series, hurricane safety starts with an emergency kit. Just as people need to have at least a three-day supply of food and water stocked away, so do your pets. But that’s not all. Are your furry friends on any medications? Make sure you have enough of these, as well as copies of your pet’s prescriptions and vaccination records. You’ll also need some way of keeping your pet contained, such as a carrier or a leash, and pictures just in case they get lost. Make sure your pet’s collar tags are up-to-date as well in case they do get away from you. Finally, if you have a cat, don’t forget litter, litter box, and anything you may need for cleanup.
Plan of Action
Do you have a hurricane action plan? Don’t forget to include your pets! You may know exactly what you’ll do when a storm is approaching—evacuation routes, where you’ll stay, and where you might stop along the way. But keep in mind whether or not these places are pet-friendly. Many hurricane shelters do not allow pets. Can you stay with a relative or friend out of town who might be more accommodating? Is there an animal shelter that boards pets during hurricanes? Do your research well ahead of time so you know your pet will be looked after.
Whether you plan to stay or evacuate during a storm, be sure to keep your pet contained well before the weather starts to get bad. Sudden weather changes can cause animals to act unpredictably, and even the most well-trained might try to run away and become disoriented. Whether you use a leash, carrier, or keep your pet in close quarters, do so in advance to prevent stress to you and your fur baby.
Special Advice—What NOT to Do
Oftentimes pet owners have the best intentions for their pets but don’t know the best way to keep them safe. If you are evacuating or going to a shelter at the last minute and can’t take your pet, do NOT leave your pet tied to a tree or constrained in any way that would keep it from being able to find shelter and fend for itself. In such dire situations, it’s better to let your pet loose. Better still is planning ahead so that you don’t have to face this dilemma and your pet can be well cared for.
Regardless of your situation, always do your best to stay calm. Not only will this help you think most clearly, but it will help reassure your pet that they are safe.