How Do We Care For Our Animals During Hurricane Season?

Man made climate change is leading to a warmer planet — and it’s not enough just to say it out loud. We need to know exactly what that means. What are the consequences? Long-term consequences include damage to our economy, displacement in the millions, flooding, agricultural issues, etc. But the short-term consequences are already here. We need to prepare for them now, not try to stop them from happening. One short-term consequence is a longer — and more damaging — hurricane season. 

When it comes to animals, this is an especially big deal. Dogs and cats don’t know what to do when they’re trapped indoors during a big storm or hurricane. They panic! Part of the reason for this is that they sense our own anxiety and fear. They know when something is wrong.

That’s why we need to do our best to protect and care for them in the event of a worst case scenario. Luckily, most of the relevant steps to care for our animals are the same for us. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Make sure you know where to evacuate if the order comes down the pipeline or you simply decide you’re more comfortable somewhere else. Always have a plan ahead of time. Make sure your Great Aunt Sally knows that she’s a part of the plan if that’s where you would go in case of a storm. 
  • Make sure you have a two-week supply of food and water in case you’re at home when the power goes out. You never know when the roads might be blocked. Put together a kit with flashlight, batteries, blankets, etc. Keep a radio on hand (battery operated). You might even want to exchange walkie talkies with at-risk neighbors who you trust.
  • Stay away from windows and glass doors. Stay on the first floor when possible, and stay in a small windowless room, closet, or hallway. If you want more space, then be sure to sufficiently board up or block windows. 
  • Make sure all appliances are unplugged if you do lose power. 
  • Turn off the breaker if you’re in an area prone to flooding.
  • The FDA suggests keeping pets in carriers, but we realize not everyone can stomach taking terrified animals and placing them in even more confined quarters. You can consider keeping them cooped up with you, but keep them leashed when you do. 
  • Keep pillowcases on-hand. If you need to evacuate or leave in a hurry, these are useful for scooping up cats. This is also good advice if you have a house fire.

No one wants to leave. But in the event of hurricane damage property evacuation, you might need to do exactly that. If you have to get out of the house, then bring your pets with you. Friends and family are the best options to provide shelter when you have pets, as not all emergency shelters will take pets too. You can ask your local emergency management agency for information about which shelters will allow both you and your animals.