Hurricane & Storm Preparedness

Weather and environmental emergencies come in many forms, and some may require a brief or permanent evacuation from your home.  Whether it’s a snow storm, hurricane, or fire, each situation requires different actions to keep your pets safe.  However, the best thing you can do for your family and your pets is to be prepared.

Mark your home with a rescue alert sticker.

This will let neighbors or first responders know that you have animals inside your home. Make sure you place the sticker in a high visibility area such as a main entryway or front window. To get a free emergency sticker for your home, you can order it online by visiting the ASPCA HERE.

Make sure that your animals are wearing collars and identification tags that are up to date.

Adding make sure your cell phone number, and not your home number on your pet's tag in case you have to evacuate your home.  You may also want to have an extra leash and collar just in case. 

Put together a hurricane and storm disaster kit.

A basic kit should include food and water for at least five days.  Make sure your food is stored in a waterproof container.  Also include bowls and a manual can opener if needed. An animal first aid kit should also be included and should contain, gauze and first aid tape, hydrogen peroxide, clean disposable gloves, cotton balls, Benadryl, styptic powder (to reduce bleeding of minor cuts), antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin, and tweezers.  These kits can be homemade, or purchased online and at your local stores.  If your animal needs any medication, have a backup supply available as well. 

Have a copy of your animal’s medical records on hand.

In the event of an emergency, keep these records in a secure, waterproof container to keep them safe. Include a list of the medications your dog is taking.

Find a safe place to stay ahead of time.

Chapter 7, Addendum 2 of the ADA describes how emergency shelters must be mindful of the ADA when accommodating people with disabilities and their service animals.

Make arrangements with friends or relatives.

Ask people outside your immediate area if they would be able to shelter you and your animals—or just your animals—if necessary.  If you have more than one, you may need to arrange to house them at separate locations.  You should also have a list of local boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in disaster emergencies (make sure to include their 24-hour telephone numbers).

After a hurricane or storm, your home may be a very different place, and it may be hard for your pets to adjust.

Don't allow your pets to roam loose.  Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your animal will probably be disoriented, which could lead to them get lost in such situations. Be patient with your pets after a disaster.  Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible.  However, be ready for potential behavioral problems caused by the stress of the situation. If these problems persist, or if your animal is having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.

Be ready for everyday emergencies

There may be times that you can't get home to take care of your pets.  Icy roads may trap you at the office overnight, an accident may send you to the hospital—things happen.  But you can make sure your pets get the care they need by making arrangements now:

  • Find a trusted neighbor, friend or family member and give him or her a key. Make sure this backup caretaker is comfortable and familiar with your pets (and vice versa).
  • Make sure your backup caretaker knows your pet's feeding and medication schedule, whereabouts and habits.
  • If you use a pet-sitting service, find out in advance if they will be able to help in case of an emergency.

The electricity goes out.

If you're forced to leave your home because you've lost electricity, take your pets with you to a pet-friendly hotel.  If it's summer, even just an hour or two in the sweltering heat can be dangerous.  If you stay at home during a summer power outage, ask your local emergency management office if there are pet-friendly cooling centers in the area.  If it's winter, don't be fooled by your pets' fur coats; it isn't safe to leave them in an unheated house.

There are some emergencies that might require you to stay in place to seek refuge.  Consider having a few pet relief pads in case it is unsafe to bring your dog outside.  You can also find information about disaster planning and pets on FEMA’s website.