Are your pets ready to evacuate in an emergency?

It's early October and Fall has begun, but it's still Hurricane season all up and down the Atlantic in the U.S.  Many of us have been talking all Summer about Disaster Emergency Preparedness and having a family Disaster Plan that includes our pets.

Although we live primarily in Phoenix, Arizona, for the last few months we've been at our home in Long Island, NY.   As everyone has heard by now, hurricane Joaquin has been hammering parts of the Caribbean and is working it's way North towards Western Bermuda.  Joaquin, a high Category 4 storm, is currently tracking with wind speeds of 155 MPH.  If wind speeds increase by just 2 MPH it will become a Category 5 storm. 

I took Phoebe for a very short walk on Friday morning.  She was not too happy, I should have put a jacket or sweater on her!
Although Joaquin isn't expected to hit land on the East coast, it is a large storm system that has already caused torrential rains, flooding, coastal flooding, gusty winds, and power outages.  For the second day in a row I have sequestered myself in my house here in Suffolk County, Long Island due to the heavy rain and strong gusty winds; my driveway and yard are accumulating fallen branches and leaves.  My lights have flickered but we haven't lost power yet.  I've made preparations just in case things get really bad.

As you may recall, this area was severely hammered by Super Storm Sandy just a couple of years ago.  Everyone around here is wary when a storm is expected.  New Jersey and several other neighboring states have already declared a State of Emergency.  Although the storm won't hit land in this area, the big concern is dangerous flooding. 

I live 5 minutes from the water so I'm monitoring any potential flooding situations in my neighborhood.   I'm also on guard with plenty of bottled water and canned food, flashlights, transistor radio, and candles in case of a power outage.  I've also gathered supplies together to ensure I have emergency supplies for the dogs in the event we had to evacuate.  It's very doubtful that we will, but I think it's smart to be prepared for anything, storms can be so unpredictable.  Here's my plan:

If I need to evacuate the immediate area for any reason, I'll head to my mom's house 30 miles away in Western Long Island.  If her area needs to evacuate as well, the plan would be to head North and West towards Pennsylvania.  I know my town's evacuation route plan and the safest emergency routes.  My town has a web site with emergency preparedness and evacuation tips, yours probably does as well - are you familiar with it?

Don't leave your pets behind if you need to evacuate unless it's absolutely necessary.  They may not be safe there.
I'll have my dogs with me of course.  In the unlikely event I had to stop for the night somewhere with them I have located several dog friendly hotels within a 50 mile radius.  I keep the AAA Pet Book handy with me in case my cell phone goes out and I need to find accommodations. 

Many people have stickers on their windows telling rescue workers that there are pets inside so they can look for them.  However, whenever possible you should take your pets with you if you evacuate.  If you've taken pets with you and you have one of these stickers, use a black magic marker to write "Evacuated" over the pet's information on the sticker.  That way rescuers won't waste valuable time searching for pets that are no longer in the home.

These are the supplies I have ready for my two dogs if we ever need to evacuate:

My disaster emergency bag with items for my dogs in case of evacuation

In a canvas shoulder bag I pack:
** Large jug of tap water plus several days worth of bottled water.  A portable dog water bowl.

** Dry dog food for 2 days and food bowls.

**Canned food for 2 days plus food rolls, which are lightweight and easy to travel with.  They're also sealed in plastic and are water tight.

**I normally leave copies of my dogs' rabies vaccination certificate and other vaccination documentation from my Veterinarian in the car.  I'll pack the envelope in a plastic bag to stay dry and place it in the emergency bag.

** First Aid kit with hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, bandages & bandage wrap, gauze pads, scissors, nail clippers, cotton balls & Q- tips.

** Pet wipes, a tall kitchen trash bag and zip lock bags.  I love zip lock bags, I use them for everything!  Doggie waste bags and a towel.  We also keep a towel and blanket in the car.

** 1 or 2 toys and chew sticks to help keep the dogs calm and occupied.  An evacuation can be very scary for them!

**Leashes, harnesses, and collars.  I'll use a harness for both of them, a frightened pet will often try to run from whatever is scaring them.

We are Ready to go at a moment's notice!
For more about why it's so important to include pets in emergency planning and work to keep them safe, see my earlier post on How Will Your Pet React In An Emergency?

On the opposite coast, people have been dealing with wildfires in California and Washington all Summer.  These tragic and widespread fires have impacted many pets.  Reports are just now coming out about the numbers of pets who have been lost, injured, or killed during the chaos of the wildfires.

PLEASE, if your dog or cat isn't microchipped, get them chipped as soon as you are able.  As an animal shelter volunteer, I'm begging you to do that for your pets.  Being chipped is probably the one thing that can reunite you with your pet above all else.  It's quick and easy, just like getting a vaccination.  Many shelters offer discounts throughout the year for as little as $10!  Do you love your pet 10 bucks worth?

You can find updated information on Hurricane Joaquin here:

Have you ever had to evacuate your home due to an emergency?  What did you do to prepare?  Are any of you currently experiencing the effects of Hurricane Joaquin or other natural disaster right now?  How are you handling it?



  1. Important information for sure. Thank you :) It is sweater weather here too!!

  2. I am praying that Joaquin will stay offshore, but I'm glad that you are prepared just in case. It is always scary when you have to sit and wait for a storm to pass. Stay safe ♥

  3. Interesting post, guys. Thank you.

  4. I'm so glad to hear that you are well prepared in case this storm gets really ugly. I'm praying for everyone affected by the hurricane. It is amazing how powerful this storm is! We are even getting affected here in Detroit (though nothing big). Please do your best to stay safe.
    -Purrs from your friends at

  5. Very informative post! I hope everyone stays safe with the recent storms!!!!!!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  6. You're so good to be prepared! I think since you get warnings on the east coast of storms coming your basic direction, maybe it makes it more compelling to get the evacuation supplies together! Here where we live, the only thing we really have to worry about is an earthquake. And of course there'll be no warning ahead of time for that. I just hope when the Big One hits that we'll all be together. My worst fear is that the hubs will be at work and Rita and I will be here at home and he won't be able to get to us if the roads are a mess. Thanks for the good info. (And, yes, Rita is chipped!) Hope you have stayed safe! Looks on the news like the Carolinas are getting hit the worst!

  7. It's something everyone needs to think about - no matter where you live. I admit, I need to prepare kits!

  8. Sadly we are not ready for an emergency and it's something I worry about. Thanks for your tips. I need to put together a plan.

  9. I have a small kit but I need to expand upon it. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. The big disaster we have to worry about here is earthquakes and we won't have much warning so.... Mr. N is microchipped and he's coming with us when we have to evacuate!

  11. Great tips Cathy, and yes my dog is microchipped. My concern is always how the pets will react should we have to evacuate, we live in Florida year round and 6 months of that as you know is hurricane season. I never thought about it till now because we have lived at the same address for 16 years now, but remember to update your microchip info if you should move. I don't know how our seasonal residents handle this. You may know how this is dealt with being that you live in 2 different areas. Do you list both addresses with the microchip website?

  12. You are very well prepared! I hope you never need to use it, but it must give you a big sense of relief to have a good plan!

  13. Just had a dream the other day about a tornado emergency. I have gotta get our kit together!

  14. Just had a dream the other day about a tornado emergency. I have gotta get our kit together!

  15. Very appropriate blog for me to read as my state, SC, just suffered major flooding. Luckily, I didn't need to evacuate, but I do need to be prepared.

  16. We've never had to evacuate, but being ready is half the battle. I learned this while taking care of my mother, who had many pills and oxygen tanks. We lived in the country and there were some very wild storms and flooding though we never got hit. We had three dogs then, so it would have been an undertaking!