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Natural Disaster Planning for Pets

 

As pets have become a more important part of our family units, so has their safety and wellbeing. Yet, few of us are prepared for the event of a natural disaster. In order to make things a little easier, we’ve put together a few simple tips on how to protect your pets should your area be struck by a tornado, hurricane, flood, or fire.

 

One important thing to note is that in all of these disaster scenarios it is safer to evacuate with your family and pets. However, keep in mind that boarding facilities, kennels, and animal shelters require that your pets have all their vaccinations up to date, or you might be turned away. Also, many emergency shelters do NOT accept pets for health and safety reasons, so pet-friendly shelters will fill up fast. 

 

Tornadoes

 

Occurring at a moment’s notice, tornadoes can sweep through a neighborhood indiscriminately and wreak havoc in a short period. Here’s what you can do:

 

Tornado Preparation

  • Designate a tornado-safe location that will accommodate your entire family, including pets. A windowless room nearest to the ground floor is recommended.
  • If you live in an area affected by tornadoes, get in the habit of doing "drills" with your family and pets during mild weather to ensure they will all know what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Stock your tornado-safe area with a pet emergency kit and keep crates in the designated area for each of your pets. Panic can give rise to out of the ordinary behaviors in pets and fast confinement will be required. 
  • Know where your pets' hiding spots are, so you can grab them and take them to safety as quickly as possible. Limit their access to any unsafe spots it may be hard to get them out of.
  • If you can evacuate, don’t leave your pets behind. Take proper pet identification and emergency kits for your pets as well as for your family.

 

During a Tornado

  • If your family is weathering the storm inside the home, make it to your "safe room" and crate your pet as soon as possible. If you can, place the crates under heavy, durable furniture.

 

After a Tornado

  • Always be extra careful when going outdoors following a tornado. Only exit the home after you and your family are certain the storm has passed.
  • Keep your pets secured at all times. Cats should remain in their carriers, and dogs on a leash.
  • Don’t allow your pets to go near water or other liquids on the ground outside; debris from the tornado may have contaminated the area or live power lines may be laying in the water.
  • Keep everyone (including yourself) away from downed power lines.

 

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Hurricanes

 

Although hurricanes have seasons (Jun.1-Nov.30 in the Atlantic and May15-Nov.30 in the Eastern Pacific), weather experts still have trouble predicting just how many storms regions will get each year and what their paths will be. Here’s what you can do:

 

Hurricane Preparation

  • Designate a hurricane-safe location that will accommodate your entire family, including pets. A windowless room nearest to the ground floor is recommended.
  • If you live in an area affected by hurricanes, get in the habit of doing "drills" with your family and pets during the off season to ensure they will all know what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Prepare a pet emergency kit and keep enough crates to hold each pet in the event of a storm in the designated area for each pet. Panic can give rise to out of the ordinary behaviors in pets and fast confinement will be required.
  • If you can evacuate, don’t leave your pets behind. Take proper pet identification and emergency kits for your pets as well as your family.

 

During a Hurricane

  • If your family is weathering the storm inside the home, make it to your "safe room" and crate your pet as soon as possible. If you can, place the crates under heavy, durable furniture.

 

After a Hurricane

  • Always be extra careful when going outdoors following a hurricane. Only exit the home after you and your family are certain the storm has passed.
  • Keep your pets secured at all times. Cats should remain in their carriers, and dogs on a leash.
  • Don’t allow your pets to go near water or other liquids on the ground; debris from the hurricane may have contaminated the area or live power lines may be laying in the water..
  • Keep everyone (including yourself) away from downed power lines.

 

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Floods

 

Flood conditions can also encroach rapidly and sometimes without much notice. Here’s what you can do:

 

Flood Preparation

  • If you live in an area affected by floods, get in the habit of doing "drills" with your family and pets to ensure they will all know what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Know where your pets' hiding spots are, so you can grab them and take them to safety as quickly as possible. Limit their access to any unsafe spots it may be hard to get your pets out of.
  • Prepare a pet emergency kit and, if you can, evacuate with your pets.

 

During a Flood

  • If your family gets stuck in your home during a flood, move to the upper floors or into your attic. During sever flooding, such as what occurred in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, move onto your roof until help can arrive.
  • Keep your pets either on a leash or in a crate so that they do not run away in a panic.

 

After a Flood

  • Stay indoors until after the water has receded.
  • Don’t allow your pets to go near water or other liquids on the ground; in addition to debris and live power lines, the water may be contaminated with infectious diseases and parasites.
  • Keep everyone (including yourself) away from downed power lines.

 

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Fires

 

Wildfires can begin quickly and spread rapidly, especially during the driest seasons. Here’s what you can do:

 

Fire Preparation

  • If you live in an area affected by fires, get in the habit of doing "drills" with your family and pets to ensure they will all know what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Know where your pets' hiding spots are so you can grab them and take them to safety as quickly as possible. Limit their access to any unsafe spots it may be hard to get your pets out of.
  • Prepare a pet emergency kit and have a crate available so that you can evacuate with your pets as quickly as possible.

 

During a Fire

  • Wildfires move quickly but will often give you enough time to evacuate. Household items can be replaced, family and pets cannot.

 

After a Fire

  • Upon returning to your home be aware that wildfires may leave surrounding structures unstable and dangerous for wandering pets. Also, wild animals from the surrounding area may have been pushed into more residential areas, which pose a danger to your family and pets.
  • Keep your pets on a leash or in a crate.

 

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In an emergency situation, your family pets will need you more than ever. Take charge and be prepared. Here are some other great emergency preparation resources:

 

 

 

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