Houston, the Bayou City, has a long history with floods. Hurricanes Harvey and Allison are etched in our minds -- flooding, property damage and loss of life.
With Tropical Storm Barry churning toward the Gulf Coast, it's a good time to refresh your knowledge on how to keep your pets safe during a flood or hurricane.
Hurricane season runs June 1 - November 30th. Even if this storm is a "miss" for Houston, this knowledge is something you will need to reference at some point in the future.
How to Prepare Before a Storm
- Papers please. Put your dog and cat’s important documents, such as vaccination records, your vet’s contact information, and your pet's microchip number, in a waterproof, sealed bag.
- Microchip managed. Make sure your pet's microchip is registered, and tied to your phone number and phone number of family members.
- Collar & Tags. Confirm that your pet has a well-fitted collar and ID tags with your name, address and phone number.
- Life Jacket. Consider buying a life jacket or other flotation device for your dog. Even if he/she is a strong swimmer, flood waters are extremely powerful. Do not expect your dog to be able to swim out.
- Location location location. Know your pet's hiding places. If flooding is a concern, you may have to leave very quickly. You may consider locking your cat in an interior bathroom to avoid it hiding under the bed. Monitor your dogs closely in your yard.
- Make an emergency “go bag” for your cat or dog to take with you if you have to evacuate. This bag should contain essentials you will need while away from home. This includes:
- Extra leashes
- Your pet’s identification and registration numbers
- A photo of your pet (upload to Google Photo). Include detailed photos of front, both sides, and stomach. Do not rely on a random, blurry picture to identify your pet!!
- Vaccination records (take a picture and upload to Google Photo)
- Any medications and prescriptions
- 3-5 days supply of pet food and bottled water
- Pet first aid kit (purchase one now with Amazon Prime and get it before the weekend, or DIY version below)
- Familiar blanket for reassurance when in a strange place
- Collapsible carrier or crate
- Doggie poop bags or cat litter as applicable
- Calming spray, calming chews and/or thundershirt if your dog typically uses these in a storm
- Once complete, put this bag in your car so you don't forget it!.
What to do During a Storm
- Stay inside. During a storm, keep your pets inside. For potty breaks, leash your dog and walk it outside, only when local weather services show it is safe to do so.
- Evacuate if needed. Evacuate if you are told to do so, and take your pets with you.
Yes, The PETS Act requires that household pets and service animals be included in any emergency preparedness operational plans by state and local authorities. Bring your animal with you. But be prepared to bring everything your pet will need for their stay.
- Have a Plan. Figure out where you’ll take your pet if you have to evacuate quickly. This might be a friend’s home or a pet-friendly hotel located outside the area. You can also call your local Red Cross office to find a pet-friendly shelter. It is wise to have several options in mind, in case certain roads are blocked and you have to change direction.
If you evacuate and you must leave your pet behind:
- Do not tether, crate or restrain them.
- If you live in a two-story house, keep them in a secured room, upstairs, with plenty of food and water.
- If you don’t have a two-story house, make sure your pets have escape routes with access to higher ground.
- As Hurricane Harvey proved all too well, pets are difficult to locate and reunite with their families after a disaster.
What to Do With Pets After a Storm
- Stay out of floodwater. Don’t allow your pets to go near water or other liquids on the ground; debris from the hurricane may have contaminated the area or live power lines may be laying in the water.
- Stay on-leash. Don’t let your dog outside without a leash immediately following a flood. There may be broken glass, nails, sharp sticks, or other dangerous objects that could hurt him
- Monitor behavior. Monitor your pets' behavior. Even the most well behaved pets can act-out when they are anxious and in an unfamiliar or stressful situation.
- Be calm. Don’t panic! The calmer you are, the calmer your dog will be.
What to Put in a DIY Pet First Aid Kit
You can easily make a DIY Pet First Aid kit with materials from the local pharmacy.
- Absorbent gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Cotton balls or swabs
- 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (always check with veterinarian or animal poison control expert before giving to your pet)
- Ice pack
- Disposable gloves
- Scissors with blunt end
- Antibiotic ointment
- Oral syringe or turkey baster
- Liquid dishwashing detergent (for bathing)
- Small flashlight
- Alcohol wipes
- Styptic powder
- Saline eye solution
- Artificial tear gel
Storm Safety Tips for Humans
We care about people in addition to animals!
Here are links to some helpful hurricane tips from ElectricityPlans.com, an online electricity shopping site that also has energy efficiency and electric safety tips.
- Hurricane Preparedness Kit
- 21 Tips to Manage Your Home Utilities in a Hurricane
- What to Do When Your House Floods