Individuals making emergency preparedness plans for the upcoming 2014 Atlantic storm season should remember to include their pets in their evacuation plans, Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) Emergency Manager Ron Kunz said.
The Atlantic storm season, which runs from May to November, is predicted to be lower than average, according to scientists in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University. Their forecast this year includes nine named storms, three hurricanes and one intense hurricane of Category 3 strength or greater.
“Weather-related events are the biggest threats for this area,” Kunz said. “If you can come up with a plan ahead of time for your family, including your pets, at least you’ll have a game plan. Hopefully you’ll never have to use it, but if you do, you can feel comfortable.”
Kunz added there are several options for pet owners in the event of a large storm. If family members live out of the area, ask them to pet sit in case of an emergency. Individuals can also use leave during a storm and accompany their pets to a relative’s home or take their pets to a pet-friendly hotel. The American Red Cross suggests contacting hotels and motels outside the local area to inquire about pet size and number restrictions. In some cases, a hotel’s “no pets” policy can be waived during a natural disaster. The website ready.gov is also a good resource regarding caring for animals during a disaster.
Kunz explained that sometimes emergency shelters will accept pets, but cautions that stress levels in pets can increase when they are in close proximity to other animals. Generally, as a storm approaches, news and disaster agencies will release a list of pet-friendly shelters.
“It’s best to stay with your pets as much as possible,” Kunz said. “Storms can also cause power outages and the noise of the storm and not having lights just increases the stress for them. And if the owner is stressed, they can sense all of that.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency advises making disaster preparedness kits for family pets. They should include a 3-day supply of food and water, an extra collar, leash and pet identification tag, copies of pet adoption or registration papers and vaccination and medical records, extra medicine, an additional litter box and extra litter for cats, paper towels, plastic bags, favorite toys and treats, and a picture of you and your pet together. Pet owners should also have a sturdy crate or carrier to transport pets safely. Kunz suggests owners get microchip implants for their pets to help identify and return lost pets.
“Make sure you can come up with a plan that not only includes yourself, but also includes your pets because many people consider pets family,” Kunz said. “Some folks, especially essential personnel like police, firefighters and medical personnel, should definitely find someone to care for their pets. It’s one less thing to worry about.”