NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Hurricane Florence is now a major category three storm headed right for the East Coast, with the largest concentration of Sailors and Marines in the world in the potential landfall zones. Ships and aircraft squadrons are moving out of danger, which leaves family members and shore based-military members to batten down the hatches at home and decide whether or not to evacuate.
The Naval Safety Center recommends ensuring your emergency preparedness kit is stocked. This should include water, medications, a first aid kit, batteries, flashlights, non-perishable food, and a battery-powered radio.
Before the hurricane hits, all lawn furniture should be secured so it doesn’t become a flying projectile in high winds.
Once all the home preps are made, it’s important to remember the family pets in the hurricane plan.
Dr. Joseph M. Kiel is a veterinarian working for the U.S. Army at Norfolk Naval Station, Virginia. He offers some practical tips to help prepare and keep pets safe.
“You should have adequate food for your pets for at least 7 days,” he said. “Also, your pets should have a supply of dedicated water for them above what you have for your family.”
He said since water can become contaminated during and after a hurricane. It’s important to have plenty of safe drinking water for everyone.
“A good general guideline is that a healthy dog should drink between ½ and 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day,” Kiel said. “Typically, cats need between 3.5–4.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight per day.”
Kiel said your pet’s emergency kit should include: food, water, bowls, first-aid kit, medical records, medications, identification collars, leashes and a favorite toy.
“You should have your pet’s medical records with you, especially if they are being treated for a medical condition,” he said. “If you have to seek medical care for your pet, while you’re away from your home, a set of medical records will help a veterinarian understand your pet’s condition and past treatments.”
Kiel also suggested bringing your pet’s signed rabies certificate along with proof of other immunizations.
Kiel said that just like everyone else in an emergency, It’s natural for pets to be anxious during a hurricane and that anxiety can elevate if you evacuate to a shelter.
“Some dogs and cats may benefit from medications to help with anxiety during a storm event, evacuation, or spending time in a shelter,” he said. “Discuss this with your veterinarian before you need them, and be sure to try the medication so you know what effects they will have on your pet.”
Kiel also recommends getting your pet microchipped to help identify them in the event you become separated. A microchip is a form of electronic identification. It’s implanted under your pet’s skin and contains a unique ID number that can identify your pet and provide your contact information.
He said that prepping before a hurricane is important, but there are also hazards afterwards. Flood waters may be contaminated, venomous snakes may be more active and other wildlife as well. This can create additional dangers for your pets.
“Be careful when going out after a hurricane due to downed power lines that may be potentially life threatening,” Kiel said. “Broken glass or sharp metal debris can cause severe cuts which can easily become infected.”
Taking precautions before and after a hurricane are important when it comes to protecting all of your family members. Help reduce anxiety, for yourself and pets, by creating an emergency kit for two and four-legged family members and planning ahead.
For more news from Naval Safety Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsc/.