With the official opening of the hurricane season in little more than a week (the season begins on June 1 and lasts through November 30th), now is the time to start planning for the possibility of a storm hitting your area. As pet owners, we have special responsibilities to take into consideration when it comes to hurricane preparedness, which means not only developing a strategy that will accommodate our family and loved ones, but also our pets. To that end, Petswelcome has just launched a Hurricane Preparedness for People and Pets section that will help you be ready in case a major weather event and/or emergency happens near you.
Colorado State’s Tropical Meteorology Project issued their extended forecast for 2018 and predicts 14 named storms (which are circular patterned storms with winds of 39 mph or more) and seven hurricanes, three of which could be major. And, with the gradual trend of a warming climate, researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research warn that future storms could be larger, stronger and wetter (meaning the possibility of greater flooding). Given this scenario, having a reliable and well-thought-out emergency plan is imperative.
First, make sure you have a disaster supply checklist for pets. We recommend one that can be found in the CASEY (Caring for Animals Safety in Emergencies during the Year) Plan put out by the Disaster Response Team of the Humane Society of the United States, and which we list on our site. As part of this checklist, and the emergency kit you will assemble using it, you should have at the ready any medications your pet is taking and a copy of its medical records, leash, harness and carrier, food and water bowls, a current photo of your pet (preferably of you and your pet together), pet bed and toys as well, as other useful items such as plastic bags and grooming items. Also make sure your pets are wearing up-to-date id tags or can be identified by microchips. For cats, their pet carrier should be large enough to accommodate them and a litter box; as part of the emergency kit, also include the litter box, a bag of litter, and scooper.
A critical part of emergency planning is having an evacuation plan so that you’re not scrambling at the last minute and getting stuck in heavy traffic and bad weather conditions, unsure whether you’ll find a place that will accept you and your pet. To avoid such an outcome, Petswelcome provides a list of Pet-friendly Hotels Near You as well as Pet-friendly Emergency Shelters so that you will have a starting point and framework for planning your evacuation. We’ve talked to many emergency experts and they are adamant that finding a pet-friendly hotel to evacuate to should be your first priority and that emergency shelters should only be used as a last resort. And, once you have identified a pet-friendly hotel, make sure you secure a reservation early on, at the first hint of a storm, so that you’re not suddenly shut out and left with nowhere to go. If the storm never materializes or ends up taking another path, you can always cancel the reservation.
It’s also important to have an evacuation route ready so that you can get you to your destination without delay. Using Petswelcome’s Emergency Route Planner, you can enter your departure location and any stopovers you might require to your final destination. It will also show you pet-friendly hotels and shelters along the way. This route should be created ahead of time and saved so it is ready for use when you need it—giving you plenty of time to depart before a pending storm. It can then be accessed on desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.
The reality is that emergencies can strike anytime. Having no plan is not an option. We highly recommend you start preparing now so that you will have the peace of mind and confidence that your whole family—including your pets—will be safe and protected in the event of a hurricane threat near you.