By Kim Rain
Published: 08/06/2021, edited: 08/24/2021
If you live in an area that experiences extreme weather seasonally, you know you need to be prepared for the worst at any time. However, due to climate change, many areas that usually experience mild weather are now seeing record high and low temperatures, as well as wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and tornadoes!
Whether you are used to taking precautions, or are experiencing extreme weather conditions for the first time, being prepared ahead of any disaster can make all the difference for the safety of your family and pets.
We’ve created 7 basic tips with pet safety in mind to help you navigate extreme weather season, and be prepared for whatever may come. Let’s get started!
Extreme weather considerations may change based on where you live. If near the ocean, you’ll be contending with hurricanes and tsunamis, while desert-dwellers will be battling soaring heat, flooding and droughts. Northern locales can be subject to freezing temperatures and avalanches, while others can fall victim to wildfires, earthquakes and tornadoes. Phew!
While many of your pre-disaster steps will be the same in most extreme weather situations, you’ll need to make adjustments for what kind of conditions you may be facing locally. You should also keep an eye on your area for weather warnings, and can even sign up for a service that alerts you to potential issues.
While your fish, gerbils and lizards are hard to put a tag on, your dog or cat should never be without one. If possible, your pet should always have current ID on them, which should include a collar with an ID tag, and a microchip. These tools are not only useful, but necessary when a disaster strikes, as they are the best way to find your pet if you are separated. If you get a microchip for your pet, also be sure to register it, a crucial step that links the personalized ID number to you, and always keep all your pet’s IDs up to date. While you are updating, make sure your pet’s vaccinations, and heartworm and flea and tick treatments are current too!
Just like a fire drill in school, you’ll want to create safety and escape plans in cases of dangerous weather conditions.
First, always keep your pets inside during extreme weather. From freezing cold temps that can cause hypothermia, to blazing heat that can lead to dehydration and overheating, or to natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes or tornadoes that can relocate or injure your pet, its simply too dangerous for them outdoors. Create designated rooms in your home that are safe for family and pets, such as a basement or windowless room in a tornado, or a second-floor room or attic for a flood.
If you need to evacuate, always plan to take your pet with you. Make a list of local pet-friendly emergency shelters or hotels, find a friend or relative to stay with or to house your pet while you deal with the situation, or even kennels or dog boarders who are a safe distance from the problem area.
If you know you may have to contend with extreme weather, you can even run drills with your dog or cat periodically, practicing getting into or out of a crate or car quickly on command, or even putting on a harness and leash easily.
A pet crate or carrier is so important in a crisis situation, both for your pet’s peace of mind and safety! Be sure you have the right crate, though, as soft-sided carriers are sometimes not sturdy enough to weather the weather! You’ll want a hard-sided crate or carrier that won’t be easily crushed to keep your furbaby out of harms way, such as a metal or thick plastic one. Keep it ready by the door with a blanket or toys inside in case you may need it in a hurry. Practice crate training early for both dogs and cats, and get your pet comfortable inside the crate well before a dangerous situation arises.
Just like you would pack an emergency bag for the people in the house, be sure to include one for the pets! This will be invaluable if you need to leave your home quickly and are not be able to return for a while.
Items for your pet should be packed in a waterproof backpack or bag, and include:
Sometimes, extreme weather surges when you aren’t at home, but you can help rescuers find and save your pet by taking a few easy steps first.
Place “Pet Inside” stickers on your doors and windows to alert any emergency personnel that there are pets inside the home. Here, you can list your pets to let them know how many to look for. Keeping your crate or carrier, and a leash or harness right near the front door will also help rescuers quickly secure your pet and get them to safety. If you need to evacuate with your pets, write “Evacuated with pets” on the sticker if you have time to save potential rescuers from searching in dangerous conditions.
We already discussed performing drills with your pet, and crate training, but that’s not where the disaster preparedness ends. Hurricanes, tsunamis, and floods can create dangerous water conditions, and most pets don’t automatically know how to swim. If you may be going to an emergency shelter, it would be better for everyone if your dog didn’t bark all the time or become aggressive around strangers, or your cat whine.
Extreme weather can be unpredictable, so take some time beforehand to be ready for whatever it throws at you and your pet pals for a pawtastically safe and happy ending!
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