How to Protect Your Family and Pets During a Hurricane

We’ve all seen the recent devastating effects of Harvey on Houston and its surrounding areas. With Hurricane Irma (currently a category 5) approaching the east coast of the United States, preparation and safety should be your number one priority at this time if your home is in one if its predicted paths.

If you plan on evacuating, we suggest that you leave sooner rather than later in order to beat the insane amount of traffic that you could run into. If the hurricane is predicted to be so severe that you want to leave, thousands of other people will probably have the same idea, so we suggest that you hit the road as soon as you can.

Gas prices have risen, and eventually the highways and interstates will be bumper-to-bumper. If you think that your city will be safe enough for you to be able to stay inside your home and rough out the storm, we suggest that you do, and follow the guidelines below.

Here are some hurricane safety tips and preparation guidelines to help you protect your home, family and pets.

1. Supplies

If the hurricane is currently headed your way, then your town is probably scavenging for basic supplies like dry goods (peanut butter, bread, granola bars, etc.), water, sandbags, and gas.

Here in Gainesville, FL, almost all of the gas stations are out of gas, and a majority of the stores are out of the supplies mentioned above. If it’s not too late for you to grab these items off of the shelves in your local store, then don’t hesitate. Go shopping as soon as possible to collect any supplies that you may still need in case your utilities turn off during the storm.

The first thing you’re going to want to do once you hear about the hurricane is fill your tank with gas. Hundreds of other people in your town are going to have this same idea, so get to the gas station as soon as possible.

If your stores are completely out of the desired resources, don’t panic. For most goods, you can ask the store employees if they’re going to restock anytime soon. If they say “no,” or if you don’t have time to go back to the store before the hurricane starts, you can do the following.

  • Fill up your bathtub with water, but make sure to clean the tub well beforehand. You can use this water to brush your teeth, flush toilets, rinse hands, etc.
  • Purchase a large water filter (we recommend a Britta 18 Cup Water Dispenser), and fill it with water. This can be used as your drinking water.
    • If you have a large family, purchase two or three.
    • If there are no more filters in the store, you can try these ideas…
      • Ask restaurants for old milk jugs, wash them out, and fill them with water yourself to store.
      • Take any mugs, tupperware containers, coolers, etc. and fill those up with water.
  • If you can, stock up on dry goods and produce that you can live off of in case your refrigerator loses power and your cold food goes bad.
    • We recommend the following:
      • Bread
      • Bagels
      • Peanut butter
      • Jelly
      • Granola bars
      • Apples
      • Bananas
      • Dried fruit
      • Cereal
      • Canned goods

Before you go to the store, you should take inventory on what you have in your pantry, as well as your first aid kit. Make sure that you have all medical supplies necessary in case someone gets injured during the storm.

If possible, you should also pick up batteries, flashlights, candles, lighters, etc. Whatever you think is necessary to use as light in case your power goes out.

2. Protecting Your Home

If your home is surrounded by large trees, you may want to consider cutting them down before the storm hits. A hurricane with fast enough winds can easily knock over a large tree onto a house and cause serious damage.

Do some research and make sure that your home insurance covers hurricanes. If you’re renting your house, consider renter’s insurance.

For your windows, put up shutters. You can find the supplies at any home improvement store. While you’re at the store, pick up some sandbags, as well. If you line them up outside of your doors, it will prevent your home from flooding.

Unplug all electronics, and store valuables in a safe room during the storm.

3. Protecting Your Family

Once you have acquired all necessary supplies to last a few days without utilities, now it’s time to focus on your family. Make sure that everyone stays inside and away from windows.

It’s important to stay positive and to keep the mood light, even if you’re feeling stressed yourself. Try to relax and have fun so that your kids won’t be so scared. High-stress environments can lead to fighting, and you’re all going to be lumped together for a good amount of time before you can leave, so you might as well make the best of it.

Break out the board games, snacks and positivity because you’re about to have a lot of bonding time with your family.

If your kids are old enough to drink, create a fun drinking game for the hurricane to pass the time.

4. Protecting Your Pet

There were a lot of cases during Hurricane Harvey of pets being separated from their owners. Some owners evacuated and left their dogs chained to trees (we don’t understand at all, either), and some pets ran away during the storm because they were frightened.

A record amount of animals ended up in the Houston shelters, and they didn’t have enough supplies or room to take all of the pets in.

Your pet is family. If you evacuate, your pets should come with you. If you plan on staying, make sure that your animal is safe inside with you, and doesn’t have a way to escape during a stressful time. If you have a dog or cat door, make sure to shut them during the storm. If your family is sleeping in the one room without windows in the house, make sure your pet is there, too.

If your pet doesn’t handle stress well and becomes destructive, put them in a crate with blankets, toys, food and water. This will at least create a safe space for them.

In case the storm is too crazy for your pet to go to the bathroom outside, pick up some potty pads from the store. This way, your pet will have somewhere to do their business.

If you have a Scout GPS Tracker, put it on your dog’s collar. If he manages to escape during the storm, you will be able to easily find his exact location on your smartphone. Hopefully, this will help you get your dog home safely before the storm becomes too dangerous.

If it’s not too late for you to order a Scout, we highly suggest that you do. Your children and pets’ safety is our number one priority, and it should be yours, too.

5. If all else fails…

If you don’t believe that your home will be a safe place during the hurricane, or you haven’t been able to collect enough supplies in time, we suggest temporarily relocating your family and pets to a local shelter.

To find an open hurricane shelter near you, visit this link.

It’s the rough times like these that remind us to stick together and look after each other. If you have a friend or neighbor in need, do your best to help them find shelter and supplies if you can’t offer them any of your own.

 

To summarize, here is a hurricane checklist.

  • Non-perishable food items
  • Water
  • First-aid supplies
  • Gas
  • A safe sleeping place for the whole family
  • A crate for your pet
  • Flashlights/candles
  • Things to do to pass the time (books, board games, etc.)
  • Sandbags
  • Shutters
  • Pet supplies
  • Insurance
  • A radio (in case all other forms of communication are down)
  • Optional: a generator

Stay positive, stay smart, stay safe, and stick together.