I live in Florida, which means from June 1st to November 30th we are subject to tropical depressions/storms/hurricanes.
For those that don’t know what they are or have gone through them, it’s a disturbance in the Atlantic Ocean that forms as it travels along and brings lots of rain, wind, storm surge (due to the wind pushing the water onshore), tornadoes/ water spouts and lightning.
It can be an frightening experience for humans, but imagine your pets.
So today, in light of the fact that the Tampa Bay area is currently under tropical storm warning I wanted to share some tips/hints and checklists that will help you keep your furry, feathered and scaled friends safe this Hurricane Season:
Start getting ready now
ID your pet
Make sure that cats and dogs are wearing collars and identification tags that are up to date. You’ll increase your chances of being reunited with pets who get lost by having themmicrochipped; make sure the microchip registration is in your name. But remember: The average citizen who finds your pet won’t be able to scan for a chip, but they will probably be able to read a basic tag!
Put your cell phone number on your pet’s tag. It may also be a good idea to include the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area—in case you have had to evacuate.
Put together your disaster kit
Use our checklist to assemble an emergency kit for yourself and your pet.
Find a safe place to stay ahead of time
Never assume that you will be allowed to bring your pet to an emergency shelter. Before a disaster hits, call your local office of emergency management to see if you will be allowed to evacuate with your pets and verify that there will be shelters in your area that take people and their pets.
Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to find out if they accept pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size and species. Inquire if a “no pet” policy would be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of animal-friendly places handy, and call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.
For help identifying pet-friendly lodgings, check out these websites:
Make arrangements with friends or relatives. Ask people outside your immediate area if they would be able to shelter you and your pets—or just your pets—if necessary. If you have more than one pet, you may need to arrange to house them at separate locations.
Consider a kennel or veterinarian’s office. Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in disaster emergencies (make sure to include their 24-hour telephone numbers).
Check with your local animal shelter. Some shelters may be able to provide foster care or shelter for pets in an emergency. But keep in mind that shelters have limited resources and are likely to be stretched during a local emergency.
Plan for your pet in case you’re not home
In case you’re away during a disaster or evacuation order, make arrangements well in advance for someone you trust to take your pets and meet you at a specified location. Be sure the person is comfortable with your pets and your pets are familiar with them. Give your emergency caretaker a key to your home and show them where your pets are likely to be (especially if they hide when they’re nervous) and where your disaster supplies are kept.
If you have a pet-sitter, they may be able to help. Discuss the possibility well in advance.
If you evacuate, take your pet
Rule number one: If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. You have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able—or allowed—to go back for your pets. Pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed.
Pledge to take your pet with you when disaster strikes.
Rule number two: Evacuate early. Don’t wait for a mandatory evacuation order. Some people who have waited to be evacuated by emergency officials have been told to leave their pets behind. The smell of smoke or the sound of high winds or thunder may make your pet more fearful and difficult to load into a crate or carrier. Evacuating before conditions become severe will keep everyone safer and make the process less stressful.
If you stay home, do it safely
If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together.
- Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened cats may try to hide.
- Move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in the area.
- Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.
- If you have a room you can designate as a “safe room,” put your emergency supplies in that room in advance, including your pet’s crate and supplies. Have any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies. If there is an open fireplace, vent, pet door or similar opening in the house, close it off with plastic sheeting and strong tape.
- Listen to the radio periodically, and don’t come out until you know it’s safe.
After the disaster
Your home may be a very different place after the emergency is over, and it may be hard for your pets to adjust.
- Don’t allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet will probably be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations.
- While you assess the damage, keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the house. If your house is damaged, your pets could escape.
- Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Be ready for behavioral problems caused by the stress of the situation. If these problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.
- If your community has been flooded, check your home and yard for wild animals who may have sought refuge there. Wildlife can pose a threat to you and your pet. Check out our tips for humanely evicting wildlife.
Be ready for everyday emergencies
You can’t get home to your pet
There may be times that you can’t get home to take care of your pets. Icy roads may trap you at the office overnight, an accident may send you to the hospital—things happen. But you can make sure your pets get the care they need by making arrangements now:
- Find a trusted neighbor, friend or family member and give him or her a key. Make sure this backup caretaker is comfortable and familiar with your pets (and vice versa).
- Make sure your backup caretaker knows your pets’ feeding and medication schedule, whereabouts and habits.
- If you use a pet-sitting service, find out in advance if they will be able to help in case of an emergency.
High temperatures can be dangerous. Learn more about hot weather safety for pets.
The electricity goes out
If you’re forced to leave your home because you’ve lost electricity, take your pets with you to a pet-friendly hotel. If it’s summer, even just an hour or two in the sweltering heat can be dangerous. If you stay at home during a summer power outage, ask your local emergency management office if there are pet-friendly cooling centers in the area.
If it’s winter, don’t be fooled by your pets’ fur coats; it isn’t safe to leave them in an unheated house.
Let’s start with the basic disaster kit:
Here’s a great little video:
Additional Items to have:
- Paper towels
- Plastic trash bags
- Grooming items
- Household bleach
You take also take the Pledge to take your pet with you.
Also helpful is a list of pet friendly places to take your animals in the event you have to evacuate:
Also for those taking care of community cats (taken from http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/feral_cats/tips/disasters_care_outdoor_cats.html?credit=web_id354243830) :
What to do right now
- Create (and update) a list—complete with descriptions and photos—of all the cats in the colony you care for. After a storm, this list may help you locate displaced cats and recover those being cared for by shelters or other rescue groups.
- Find someone who will commit to being a back-up caretaker in your absence.
- Carry the contact information for your secondary caretaker in your wallet. Also post the information on your refrigerator or some other visible place in your home.
- Gather and have on hand the contact information for local shelters and rescue groups. They may be able to help you locate cats who have gone missing.
- Secure or remove objects (such as chairs, potted plants or garden utensils) in and near the colony that could become airborne during high winds or get washed away.
- Move shelters and feeding stations to higher ground in areas that may flood. Raise shelters and feeding stations to keep them dry. You’ll find wooden shipping pallets, available at some lumber yards, are ideal for this purpose.
- Tie shelters and feeders to permanent structures (like a fence or a sturdy tree) to anchor them, or wedge them tightly into a secure space. Be careful about placing heavy objects (e.g., bricks, boards or rocks) on top of shelters to keep them in place, as these may pose a danger in high winds.
- Keep rain out by positioning shelters so their openings face a wall or so that the entrances of two shelters face each other, no more than a foot apart.
- Cover shelters and feeding stations with heavy tarps to keep out driving rain. Tie tarps at an angle and extend any overhang over shelter doors so water can run off and away from shelter doors. Hammer stakes securely and/or tie the tarps to a permanent structure.
- Leave extra dry food in covered feeding stations in case you can’t return soon, and place extra kibble inside the cats’ shelter, as far from the openings as possible. Don’t put water in the shelter—it’s important that the shelter and cats remain warm and dry.
- Lay Mylar blankets inside the shelters for extra warmth.
- Put portable shelters, litter boxes, food and water in an accessible shed or garage during the storm.
- Stockpile adequate cat food, bottled water, extra batteries and flashlights.
- If possible, trap the friendly cats and kittens young enough to be socialized prior to the storm and take them to a safe place. Don’t try to trap or contain feral cats; they are too frightened of humans to be handled.
Contact your local police precinct to gain access to your colony if it’s in an area with restricted access. Then, restore a normal environment and feeding routine as soon as possible in order to help draw the cats back.
How to find the missing community cats
- Search above ground level: The cats may have climbed high to escape flood waters.
- Don’t panic if you can’t find all the cats at once. They are probably close but are too frightened to return to their home. Most cats will return within a week, but some may take a few weeks to come back.
- Offer tempting foods such as canned tuna or rotisserie chicken to coax frightened cats into returning.
- Provide government agencies and organizations assisting animals with information about cats you’re missing, and find out how to claim the cats if they’re found.
- Search for missing cats at local shelters and find out how you can claim your cats.
How to restore order to the cats’ home
- Be cautious of branches and other debris that may continue to fall after the storm has ended.
- Remove broken lumber and glass, nails or other sharp objects to prevent injury and infection.
- Repair damaged feeding stations and shelters. Rebuild shelters, if necessary. Clean out and replace wet insulation materials (straw, newspaper or linens).
- Disinfect shelters, feeding stations and dishes if they were exposed to flood waters. Use a non-toxic, cat-safe disinfectant. (Check with your veterinarian or animal shelter to see what products are safe.)
- Put out more fresh water than usual because standing water is probably contaminated.
What to do once you’ve found the cats
- Check the cats for injuries or illness as thoroughly as you can. (You may only be able to examine the community cats by watching them.)
- Trap injured or sick cats as soon as possible and get them medical care. If you need help paying for their medical care, use our community-cat resources map to find one near you or consult our “Having Trouble Affording Veterinary Care?” page.
If you have anything to add please comment.