Hurricane pets safety: Complete checklist and how to evacuate

Boy and dog stood in rain
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With hurricane season in full swing, our hurricane pets safety tips will ensure you’re fully equipped with everything you need to know to keep your fur friend safe should one of these severe storms make landfall near you. 

An average of six hurricanes batter the United States each year and while most pet parents hope that these natural disasters will never strike where they live, it’s far better to be prepared with an evacuation plan and never need to use it than to be caught out and find yourself having to think on your feet as a hurricane looms.

When making preparations for a hurricane it’s vital that you consider the needs of any pets in your family and think through how you will all evacuate safely should the need arise. To help you do just that, we’ve put together a checklist that you can use to ensure you have all your bases covered.

Hurricane pets safety tips

We can’t stress enough how important it is to prepare for a hurricane in advance, as opposed to waiting for storm warnings and evacuation orders. 

Doing so will ensure you have everything you need should a hurricane arrive and enable you to leave quickly and calmly should you be told to evacuate. Here are essential tips to help guide you....

1. Have a safety plan

The first thing you want to do is to come up with a comprehensive safety plan that you can implement at a moment's notice should the need arise. Know exactly where to locate your pet’s emergency kit (we’ll discuss this next) and any important documents that you wouldn’t want to leave in the house should you have to evacuate. 

You’ll also want to be aware of where your nearest pet-friendly evacuation center is in case you have to use it or who will be looking after your pet if you’re not able to take them with you. If you’re planning on staying at home, ensure you have enough supplies to last both you and your pet for at least a week.

2. Put together a pet emergency kit

As mentioned above, you’ll want to prepare a pet emergency kit that has everything your pet will need whether you’re staying at home or evacuating. Things to put in the emergency kit include:

  • Enough food and bottled water for at least a week
  • A can opener if the tins of pet food don’t have a pull tab
  • Leash or harness
  • A sturdy pet carrier
  • Litter and litter box if you have a cat or poop bags and pee pads if you have a dog or puppy
  • Medical records, including the name and location of your vet, proof of vaccinations, and a list of any medication your pet may currently be taking
  • Toys
  • Treats
  • A pet first aid kit

Should your home be without electricity or running water or you’re having to stay in a shelter, the above list will ensure your pet has everything they need to remain happy and healthy.

3. Ensure your pet is microchipped

French Bulldog getting microchip checked by vet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s important to prepare for the worst case scenario that you and your pet become separated during the hurricane. 

Hopefully this won’t happen, but if it does, having your pet microchipped will mean the authorities are able to quickly and easily reunite the two of you. If your pet is already microchipped, double check with the microchip company that all the details they have stored for you and your pet are accurate.

4. Check that all of your pets vaccinations are up-to-date

There’s always a risk when there’s a hurricane that your pet will be exposed to bacteria-contaminated flood waters or come into contact with wild animals that may have been displaced and could be carriers of dangerous diseases. 

Make sure you stay on top of your pet’s annual vaccinations and if you live in an area that’s prone to natural disasters, have a chat with your vet about whether there might be other vaccinations that would be worth your pet having.

5. Fill out a pet emergency sticker and place it on your front door

While we do not recommend evacuating without your pet, if you are unable to take them with you for some reason or you’re not able to locate them within your home, fill out a pet emergency sticker and stick it to your front door before you leave. That way, if any first responders should show up at your home, they’ll know that there’s a pet in need of assistance. 

6. Choose a designated caregiver

If a hurricane should hit and you’re unable to care for your pet for whatever reason, having a designated caregiver in place will offer you tremendous peace of mind. Have a chat to your relatives, friends and neighbors and see if there’s anyone willing to look after your pet in your absence. 

7. Know where your nearest pet-friendly evacuation center is

Dogs in shelter

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Not all evacuation shelters allow pets, so it’s a good idea to find out which ones do ahead of time so you know exactly where to go. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (opens in new tab) (FEMA) offers a handy app that will help you locate your nearest pet-friendly shelter. 

8. Do not ignore evacuation warnings

We cannot stress enough how important it is to follow your local authorities' guidance around evacuation. If you’re told to leave your home, please do so and be sure to take your pet with you or leave them with an agreed-upon caregiver.

It’s crucial that you don’t leave them home alone or tethered somewhere to prevent them from running off as both of these put your pet at serious risk of harm.

9. Keep your pets calm

Did you know that pets can sense storms coming days before weather equipment can pick them up? It’s true. Your pet may start showing signs of stress and anxiety before you’re aware that anything’s going on and once the storm hits, this may well escalate. 

To help keep your pet as calm as possible, the most important thing you can do is to remain calm yourself. Speak in soothing tones and keep your home as free from chaos as you can. Pets often look to their owners to feel safe and secure and if they see that you’re not panicking, they’re much more likely to relax. 

10. Have a first aid kit ready 

Clinics are often overwhelmed during natural disasters with a lot of pets being brought in that are in need of medical care. Wherever possible, it’s best to try and treat minor injuries at home to avoid a long wait. For that reason, it’s a good idea to have a well stocked first aid kit at the ready in case your pet needs medical attention during the hurricane. 

How to evacuate from a hurricane with your pet

Kittens in carrier

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The first rule to remember is that if you need to evacuate, your pet needs to evacuate too. If it’s not safe for you to stay in your home, it’s not safe for them either. With any luck, you will have made a plan for what to do in such an event before the threat of a hurricane was present, this will make it much easier for you to get up and go quickly.

If you need to evacuate, load cats and dogs into small carriers and put bigger dogs on a leash or into a crate. Birds and rodents should be kept in their cage and this should be covered with a thin cloth or sheet to provide filtered light and a sense of security.

Be sure to tape a copy of your pets information and medical records to their carrier or crate so that they can be easily identified. Once you’re ready to leave, load your pet into your vehicle in their carrier or crate along with your pet emergency kit and make your way to your predetermined pet-friendly evacuation shelter. 

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.