Here's What You Should Do To Protect Your Pets During A Hurricane

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Hurricane Dorian has already made its way through much of the Caribbean and is rapidly approaching the southeastern coast of the United States. If you're in Dorian's path, ensuring your own well-being is obviously incredibly important. And while you may already know what to do to keep yourself safe, you should also know how to protect your pet during a hurricane. There are actually quite a few steps you can take to make sure your pets weather the storm as easily as possible.

Hurricane Dorian is currently expected to hit Florida on Labor Day (Sept. 2) as an incredibly powerful Category 4 storm, the New York Times reported. The paper added that, while it's not yet known exactly where the storm will strike the state, Florida's governor has declared an emergency for all counties that could potentially be in Dorian's path. The governor also advised people in Florida to have seven days' worth of emergency supplies on hand to get through the storm — and to prepare for possible evacuations, the Wall Street Journal noted.

As people get ready for Dorian to make landfall, remembering that pets are vulnerable too is so important. The tips below will help you get started.

Keep Your Pets With You, If Possible

As the Humane Society of the United States says on its website, the absolute best way to keep your pets safe during a hurricane is to keep them with you. "If it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets," the organization emphasizes.

If you're evacuating, your pets should be evacuating, too, the Humane Society says online. And, the organization adds, if you're sheltering in place, your pets should be alongside you at home.

Create — And Bring — A Portable Pet Emergency Kit

Florida's Department of Emergency Management recommends creating a portable pet emergency kit to ensure that your pets' needs are addressed during the storm. As the agency indicates, you should include pet food and water, medicines and a first aid kit, carriers and leashes, and easily portable toys and beds in this kit.

The department also recommends bringing a copy of your pet's medical records and vet contact information, along with a photo of you and your pet (in case your pet goes missing) if you do need to evacuate.

Make A Plan

If you're planning to evacuate — or even think you may need to evacuate — prepare ahead of time to ensure that your evacuation location will allow your pets to stay with you, American Humane says on its website. For example, if you're planning to head to a shelter, verify ahead of time whether you're allowed to bring your pets and if you need to bring any supporting documentation (like their vaccination records) when you arrive. You can use BringFido's hurricane pet-friendly shelter finder to help with your search.

Moreover, the Humane Society has a great list of additional websites that allow you to search for pet-friendly temporary housing options (like hotels) as well. You can also, of course, consider staying with friends and family members who are comfortable hosting pets, the Humane Society says on its webpage.

Prepare Your Home

If you're planning to stay home during the storm, it's important to make sure that it's a safe space for both you and your pets, the Humane Society tells Bustle in an email. As the organization recommends, you should identify a safe room in your home if you can — and keep all emergency pet supplies, including crates and leashes, in that area.

The Humane Society also tells Bustle that, during the storm, you should keep your pets with you in this safe room — and ensure that dogs are leashed and cats are in carriers. The organization adds that you should be sure to block off any areas where pets may try to hide or escape during the storm. This includes "unsafe nooks and crannies" and "open fireplaces, vents, pet doors or similar openings in the house," the organization tells Bustle.

Make Sure Your Pet's Identification Is Up-To-Date

Because pets can sometimes become lost or separated from their owners during hurricanes, it's crucial that their IDs are up-to-date. As the Humane Society tells Bustle, "Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with tags for identification. Ensuring your pet is microchipped is ideal as collars can be easily removed." The organization also notes that pet owners with microchipped pets should be sure that the microchips are registered. Identification tags on collars should include a pet owner's name, cell phone number, and address, American Humane says.

Be Patient After The Storm

As American Humane notes, hurricanes can be traumatic for both pets and people — and animals may need time to recover after the event. "Uncertainty and change in the environment affect animals, too, presenting new stresses and dangers. Your pet’s behavior may change after a crisis, becoming more aggressive or self-protective," the organization says on its website. "Be sensitive to these changes and keep more room between them, other animals, children or strangers. Animals need comforting, too. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs."

As you can see, it's really important to be proactive about addressing your pets' needs before, during, and after a hurricane. If you are living in a place in Dorian's path, now is the time to take action to ensure your safety — and that of your non-human family members, too.