Tips to keep you and your pet safe during the 2018 hurricane season
By Patricia Stephens
The 2018 hurricane season in Florida began June 1. The experts agree: get prepared now. For pet parents, that means having a Plan A and a Plan B to keep everyone safe and sound if a monster storm approaches. Here are some tips that simply bear repeating - if you'd like, just cut out the center column of this page and stick it to your refrigerator or bulletin board:
BEFORE THE STORM
Prepare a hurricane kit for your pets to include:
____1. Secure pet carriers for cats and small dogs and sturdy leashes/harnesses for larger dogs and appropriate-sized crates or cages for other type pets such as reptiles, birds, etc.
___2. Place medications and medical records, including proof of current vaccinations, in a waterproof container.
___3. Check and see if your vet provides something like a laminated card with proof of current vaccinations at each annual visit which can be used at motels and hotels in case evacuation is necessary.
___4. A two week supply of any medication your pet may be taking on a regular basis and familiar food, treats, and water. Also, take bowls, spoons, and a manual can opener.
___5. Cat litter/pan, extra litter, and a litter scooper.
___6. An information sheet including medical conditions and treatment schedule if needed, feeding instructions, name and phone number of your veterinarian or a kennel outside your area in case you need to board your pets - an arrangement which is, of course, not going to be your first choice. Trust us, it's simply safer to keep your pet(s) with you during times of disasters.
___7. Current photos of your pet(s) in case they get lost. Also, be sure each animal has name tags, rabies tags, etc., securely fastened to their collars. Important Note: When planning to evacuate, attach the phone number and address of your temporary shelter or of a friend/relative outside the affected area to the back of your pet's ID tag.
___8. Portable pet beds, a familiar blanket, and lots of toys.
___9. Plan ahead to have a safe place to take your pets because public shelters, like the ones operated by the Red Cross, sometimes do not allow family pets. Service dogs are an exception.
___10. Don't wait until the last minute to make plans for your pets. And don't even think about leaving them home while you evacuate. You would never forgive yourself if something happened to them because you left them behind to fend for themselves. If your home isn't safe for you, it's certainly not safe for them. Prepare now by doing the following:
___ 11. Plan A kicks in here. Ask friends or relatives outside the affected area if they are willing to shelter you and your animals. If not, see next item.
___ 12. Check out FloridaPets.net's list of pet-friendly vacation facilities throughout the state of Florida. If necessary, contact other lodging facilities outside your area to check on policies on accepting pets and any restrictions on number, size, and species. "No pet" policies are sometimes waived in emergencies.
___13. If a Plan A isn't going to work for you, go to Plan B: a pet-friendly hurricane shelter in your county. Check the Emergency Management department in the county where you reside to find a shelter that will take you and your pet(s).
Note: For several years, we provided a list of pet-friendly shelters for each Florida county, but some counties don't designate shelters as pet-friendly until the last minute. And the facilities themselves can change rapidly depending on weather conditions. So we now leave that kind of information to Emergency Management offices as they will always have up to date info.
___14. Always keep a list of all these "pet-friendly" places with your other emergency supplies.
AS THE STORM APPROACHES
___1. Know your evacuation zone.
___2. Remember, all mobile home residents must evacuate regardless of location.
___3. Hurricane guides with evacuation zone maps are available from local media sources, grocery stores, and other merchants. Keep one in your home and one in your vehicle.
PREPARING TO EVACUATE
If you feel you might have to leave your property to ensure everyone's safety:
___1. Call ahead to confirm emergency shelter arrangements.
___2. Bring all pets into the house so you won't have to search for them if you have to leave in a hurry.
___3. Be sure all pets are wearing their collars and I.D. tags.
___4. Be sure your pet's hurricane kit, discussed above, is ready to travel.
___5. Remember: animals - like people - will react differently when under stress. Keep all dogs securely leashed and cats in sturdy carriers. Even a normally calm pet may panic and try to escape or even bite in a stressful situation.
AFTER THE STORM
___1. Whether or not you physically left your home, walk your pet(s) outside on a leash until they become re-oriented to their surroundings.
___2. Don't allow pets to consume food or water which may have become contaminated.
___3. Watch for downed power lines and other debris that can be hazardous to both you and your pet(s).
___4. If your electric is out for a while and you use alternate sources of light, never leave an open flame from candles, oil lamps, etc., unattended around your animals.
DO THIS NOW
Print the above checklist
Trim sides from page
Slide list into a plastic protector
Prepare a list of local emergency numbers - see your county's emergency management information here.
Store both lists with hurricane supply box
Note: All the above applies if the weather disaster is a wildfire. Check here to learn more ways to prepare for wildfires.