Hurricane Season in the Atlantic officially began today, and we've already had two named storms. This is expected to be a "nearly normal" year, according to the National Hurricane Center, but it doesn't mean we won't see a major hurricane make landfall. And it only takes one.
In 2004, I was generally okay. I lived with my brother, so if I needed to be at work for more than a day (which happened in two of the four hurricanes to hit Florida that year), I knew I had someone to take care of my cats. This year is different though. Not only do I live alone -- I have a dog, and a cat. A dog who really shouldn't be by herself for more than 12 hours.
So for the last couple of weeks I've been thinking about things I should do to prepare her in the event I have to be at work for a while, or if I need to get her out of here. They are things you should think about too:
THINGS TO DO NOW
Where will Lulu stay if I need to be at work for the storm? My cat can go for days without me, if necessary. Lulu can't.
I have a few options:
1) Send her to my parents' house. This is easy to do during the summer, since they are teachers. But once school starts, this won't work all the time.
2) Get a friend to dog sit (preferably one with a yard).
3) Find a boarder that boards during storms. Since she doesn't like to be left alone with strangers, I'll probably have to put her through doggy day care first so she can get used to the place.
I am working on this plan now, and if I were you, I would too.
Get Lulu's paperwork in order. Already done, it's all in one folder. I will need a water tight container though, that way it doesn't get wet. Glad and Ziploc have big containers that seal well.
1) Vaccination info (while you're at it -- is this up to date? Some boarding places and shelters won't let you in without it)
2) List of veterinarian phone numbers
3) Microchip information if you have one
4) Insurance info if you have pet insurance
5) Up-to-date picture of your dog (just in case)
6) Anything else pertinent to the health and safety of your dog -- perhaps a list of dog food your pet needs if you have to leave him/her somewhere?
You should also make copies of these so you have them.
Where is your nearest pet-friendly shelter? I likely won't ever be at a shelter, but in the case it happens, I know where mine is. To find the pet shelter by you, check with your state/county's emergency management office. In Florida, there's a website, Florida pet friendly.com, which has a list by county HERE.
Get trained in pet first aid. The American Red Cross actually offers classes in this. To find one near you, go to the website.
BEFORE A STORM
Gather the following:
1) Your paperwork
2) Enough food to last a week
3) Travel dishes. If necessary, whatever you need to serve canned food.
4)Water. The rule for humans is one gallon per person, per day. How much does your pet drinks? Maybe not that much, so maybe half a gallon per pet, per day.
5) Treats. It may seem strange, but trust me, your pet is as nervous as you, if not more. Treats are a welcome distraction, and bring a touch of the familiar.
6)A favorite toy. Does the same as the treats.
7) Favorite blanket, pillow, towel, bed, etc.
8) Puppy pads, litter or newspaper -- because walking the dog may not always be possible.
9)Bags, paper towels, etc. for clean up.
10) Whatever medications you may need, and first aid stuff too.
11) Crate, cage, leash or whatever you use to transport the pet in the event you have to go.
Get your home and yard pet-storm ready. Sure, you board up the windows (don't duct tape the windows, it does nothing), bring in the patio furniture, trim the trees, clean the gutters, etc. Also, cover pools, turn over any containers that may get filled up with water (bird baths, buckets, planters, plastic pools). Bring outdoor pet food/drink containers in, and the dog house too if you can. You don't want dogs to drink the water when the storm is over. And this water will breed mosquitoes and other bugs in the days to come. It may also harbor bacteria that will make them sick. Rain water isn't the real concern here though, so much as flood water.
DURING THE STORM
Stay in your safe havens. These are places without windows, preferably. Also avoid turning electronics on if you can.
Mind your children. Know how to calm your pet if they start to get nervous, or worse, freak out. If you have a pet who is nervous or upset from the storm, they may not have as much patience for a rambunctious child. They have to know that the pet needs to be left alone, or treated gently at the very least.
AFTER THE STORM
Do NOT give your pet tap water. Even if your home has water, it may need to be boiled before its drinkable. Don't use that water for drinking or bathing until you know it's safe.
Do NOT let your pet out of the house unsupervised. Even if a quick glance of your backyard shows no major issues, it's not safe to let your pet out until you know there's no place they can get hurt. What about downed power lines, exposed cables, pieces of wood, metal, shingle, glass that came off something during the storm that ended up in your yard? Are there any places where the pet might take a lap of water? Any bedding, dishes, or other pet items that came in contact with any flood water needs to be thrown out. Don't let the pet touch it.
More tips can be found at the National Hurricane Center website, and the ASPCA website.