When a hurricane strikes, you might be told to shelter in place rather than evacuate. If you have a pet at home, you’ll want to prepare a room where you can all stay safe and comfortable. Ensuring you have enough supplies, figuring out where your pet will relieve themselves, and keeping them calm are just a few of the things you need to keep in mind when sheltering in place with your pet during a hurricane.
Set Up a Room in Advance
If you’re on hurricane watch, it’s wise to set up your safe room in anticipation of sheltering in place. This should be an interior room without windows, like a closet or bathroom, and it's where you’ll hunker down to stay safe during the worst of the storm. Make sure it’s somewhere you and your pets can all comfortably fit.
What You’ll Need
You’ll want to have everything you need for at least a few days, since you won’t be allowed to leave your home while you shelter in place. Make sure it’s all packed up and ready in your shelter room. Adjust what you need based on your pet’s specific and special needs.
- 4+ days’ worth of food
- 3+ gallons of drinking water per pet
- A week’s worth of medications and supplements
- Feeding dishes
- Water bowl
- Manual can opener
- Your pet’s favorite bed and blankets
- Toys and games
- Litter box and litter (for cats)
- Puppy pads
- Cleaning supplies
- Calming aids
- Battery-operated radio to stay updated on your status
- Leash, harness, and/or pet carrier
- Your pet emergency evacuation kit in case you need to leave
Figure Out a Bathroom Situation
Your cat or small pet will have their litter box or cage with them while they shelter in place, but your dog’s bathroom situation will be a little more complicated. Because you can’t venture outside, you’ll need to encourage your dog to do their business indoors.
Have puppy pads and designate one area as their bathroom. It will take some encouragement, especially if your dog is very well-trained not to go inside, but they’ll catch on quickly.
Training your dog to use a litter box isn’t quite as hard as it might seem, and this can be a helpful thing to teach them if you live in a hurricane-prone area.
Special Considerations for Aquariums and Terrariums
If you have a reptile, amphibian, or any fish, it’s safest to move them into the shelter room with you. If they have a large tank, place them in a travel-sized tank while you shelter in place. Plan for power outages by getting a battery-operated heat lamp, air pump, or whatever else you need to keep your pet comfortable and healthy.
Keep Calm and Shelter On
The best thing you can do for your pet while you shelter in place is to be present with them. They’re just as frightened as you are, if not more, so you can both provide each other with comfort. If you must evacuate, have an evacuation plan in place and bring your pet with you.