Hurricanes can be dangerous, damaging storms, but there are steps you can take to protect your home and loved ones when a storm approaches. If your loved ones include pets, however, it is important to take added precautions to keep pets safe in a hurricane so your entire family is protected.
Before Hurricane Season
Good preparation begins long before hurricane season. Understanding a pet’s needs and knowing how to care for the animal in an emergency is essential for hurricane season safety, and includes…
- Keeping a pet’s vaccinations and medical care updated. If it becomes necessary to evacuate to a shelter or a pet-friendly hotel, you will need documentation of your pet’s health.
- Ensuring your pet is socialized and comfortable around strangers. This is critical if you may need to move away from a storm, or if you take in friends or neighbors for shelter.
- Training your pet to travel easily, whether it needs a carrier, travel bowls, or other gear to make a trip. This can keep your pet at ease if you’re on the move before a storm.
- Putting together a pet emergency kit along with your family’s other hurricane supplies, including identification paperwork, essential medication, and extra pet food and treats.
- Installing a pet alert sticker or sign in your home so emergency personnel know about animals if you do evacuate, and marking the sign to indicate if your pet is with you or not.
- Ensuring your pet’s equipment, such as a heat lamp or aquarium filter, can be accommodated by an emergency generator if your home loses power in a hurricane.
- Keeping your pet’s identification tags, microchip, or registration paperwork updated at all times, so you can be easily reunited if separated during a hurricane or other emergency.
The more preparation you do for your pet’s well-being before hurricane season, the better equipped you will be to keep the animal safe during any emergency, including a severe storm.
When a Storm Approaches
It can be several days from the time a tropical depression is first sighted before a hurricane makes landfall. During this time, it is critical to make additional preparations so you, your family, and your pets are as safe as possible when the storm is closer. To prepare for your pet’s safety as a hurricane is approaching…
- Investigate pet-friendly evacuation shelters or hotels if evacuation may be necessary. Some kennels and veterinary clinics may also offer emergency boarding.
- Refill any medication your pet needs, and stock up on pet food for at least two weeks, in case businesses may not reopen quickly after the storm passes.
- Prepare a safe space for your pet inside your home, in an interior room where they will be sheltered from unsettling noises and lightning flashes.
- Get your pet used to a new potty routine if necessary, as it will not be safe to go outdoors for bathroom breaks during a hurricane. Setting up a potty space in a bathroom or garage can help.
- If your pet only feeds every few days, such as many large snakes or other reptiles, feed them before the storm so they aren’t hungry when it may not be possible to feed them right away.
- Take new photos of your pet so you can easily identify them and share “missing” photos if they get lost during the storm.
If you undertake this pre-hurricane preparation as soon as a storm seems headed for your area, you should have plenty of time to prepare your pet to stay safe and comfortable until the storm passes.
During the Hurricane
Depending on its speed, strength, and size, a hurricane can take just a few hours to a full day or more to pass one area. During that time, it is critical to stay alert to warnings and take all necessary measures to keep safe not just from the storm, but from any debris, flooding, or other hazards it may create. To keep your pet safe during a hurricane…
- Keep the pet calm with your own calm behavior. Animals can sense fear and anxiety, and the safer and more comfortable you feel, the better your pet will feel as well.
- Distract your pet from unusual conditions with extra training sessions, engaging games, cuddles, grooming, and other reassurances.
- Keep as normal a routine as you can so your pet is not overwhelmed with too much change or unusual behavior. This includes feeding times and other daily activities.
- Keep your pet indoors for potty time if possible, using a potty spot in a garage, bathroom, or discreet corner to keep your pet safe.
Within a few hours, the hurricane will have passed and you and your pet can immediately work to get back to a normal routine.
After the Storm
After the hurricane ends, it is best to wait for the all-clear from local officials before returning to evacuated areas or anywhere extensive flooding or damage may have occurred. Once it is safe to return, it is also important to keep your pet safe in the storm’s aftermath. To do so…
- Supervise your pet at all times to be sure they don’t encounter any displaced wildlife, dangerous storm debris, downed wires, contaminated water, or other possible post-storm hazards.
- Check outdoor areas before allowing your pet in the yard. Look for storm debris, fencing damage, visiting wildlife, and other potential threats to your pet’s safety.
- Reinforce your pet’s training, including stay, stop, and come commands as well as other desirable behaviors. This will help your pet recognize your authority and trust you.
- Be patient with your pet as it adapts to post-storm life once again. A hurricane can be traumatic, and stress can change your pet’s behavior. With love and care, however, your pet can feel confident and comfortable once again.
It will take time to recover from a hurricane, even if damage has been minimal. With careful recovery efforts, it is possible to help your pet stay safe during a hurricane and adjust to life after one of these terrifying storms.