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Hurricane Preparedness Tips
Dogs & Cats
(or other small mammals)
It's always better to stay at home during a hurricane, if possible, than to subject your pet(s) and you to an expensive and stressful evacuation. Below are some tips for maintaining health and comfort at home--and travel tips in case an evacuation is necessary.
Food and Water - At Home
Always stock up on plenty of pet food before local weather conditions turn bad. Have at least a week's worth of your pet's favorite food stored in sturdy, leak-proof containers, to avoid possible contamination.
Freeze as much water as you can. A chest freezer, if you can afford one, is an excellent way to store water indefinitely. Simply save your milk jugs for the next several weeks, rinse them out with hot water immediately and fill them 3/4 full of water, then store them (uncapped) in the freezer. The water will expand as it freezes, which is why you need to leave them uncapped. In an emergency, they will not only keep your frozen foods cold longer, they will also provide fresh water as needed; simply thaw one at a time, as you need it.
Power & Heat
Make sure you have a reliable backup power source. Generators are hideously expensive, especially this time of year. A much cheaper solution is to buy a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) from your favorite computer store. These are primarily made for computers--but can also be used to power fans, lights, or any other small appliance. The bigger the UPS, obviously, the longer it can run what you need. (Remember to fully charge your UPS before using it!!)
If you have fish, invest NOW in a battery-operated air pump and enough batteries to run it for at least a week. Even goldfish and guppies, which are primarily air breathers, will thank you!
If you must evacuate, have a checklist written up AHEAD of time! Remember to bring all your pet's supplies along. This sounds obvious--but during the panic of an evac, it's all too easy to forget items that should be second-nature. (If you're like me, your pet's supplies will take up 3/4 of the available space, and your own stuff will be crammed in the remaining corners! LOL) Also remember to bring along your pet's vet records. In case of an emergency, they can make the difference between life and death for your pet.
Hurricane evacuations can be tense and stressful to humans and their pets. Animals can sense tension and fear. A seatbelt harness is an inexpensive way to keep your dog safe and comfortable while traveling. And it can double as a walking harness at rest stops and hotels.
Most hotels will not accept pets. But during an emergency, many will bend the rules--if your pet is caged. Make sure your pet’s cage is large enough to allow it a comfortable resting area. And don’t forget a soft bed, because it may have to stay caged for extended periods of time.
When walking your pet in a strange area, always keep it harnessed and on a leash. Animals are curious by nature, and may want to explore their new environment. Or they may be frightened, and want to run away. A sturdy harness and leash will keep them safely at your side.
Food and Water
Always bring plenty of pet food and water with you. Supplies may be difficult to obtain in an emergency situation. If your pet's food and water are already packed in those sturdy, leak-proof containers mentioned above, simply load them into the car. And bring along as much frozen water as possible. Pets can get sick from drinking water in an unfamiliar location. Always bring your own water, whenever possible.
Surround your pet with familiar items. A favorite food or water bowl will help ease your pet’s stress and discomfort in strange surroundings. (Spill-proof bowls are a big hit with hotels because they minimize any potential pet-related messes!)
Whether your pet is active or lazy, enforced confinement in a car, hotel room, or cage will make it nervous and fidgety. And a bored pet can become destructive. So make sure to bring along your pet’s favorite toys. But be smart--don’t bring “active” toys like balls or frisbees. Nylabones and other non-gooey chew toys work best. Stuffed fabric chew toys are also inexpensive, effective ways to keep your pet calm.
Pamper your pet! Give it some well-deserved TLC. A good brushing will remind your pet that even in this stressful time, it’s still the #1 person in your life!