Tips to Weather the Storm
- Help your community create a disaster preparedness plan.
- Contact local media and ask them to spread the message of the importance of incorporating pets into disaster preparations.
- Ensure your staff and volunteers have made necessary preparations to keep their families and pets safe. It will be nearly impossible for them to respond to a request for help at the shelter if they are worried about their own family.
- Ensure that staff and volunteers are familiar with your emergency plan. If you expect to be in the danger zone of a storm, consider moving your animals to a sister shelter in a safer geographic area (again, if you don't have a relationship already established with another shelter, consider making one before the next crisis hits), or try and relocate the animals to a boarding facility or a temporary shelter outside the likely impact area.
- If evacuation is either not warranted or is not an option, assess the areas of greatest potential risk in your facility and adjust your operations accordingly – if you are in a flood-prone area, for example, ensure that there are no animals housed in cages sitting on the floor, and consider shifting animals out of kennels that are most likely to flood.
- Anticipate being without power and water for at least three days, and have enough supplies (including food, bedding, etc.) on hand to cope. Begin storing water in barrels and buckets or ask your local emergency operations center or fire department to arrange delivery of a spare water tank that you can fill in advance of the storm.
- Those staff members who live closest to the shelter should be on call to report as soon as it is safe to travel. Be sure that on-site staff have access to a landline, cell phone, battery backup and car charger. And don't forget to alert your municipality's emergency operations center or law enforcement authority to the fact that there will be people staying in the shelter.
- Be sure that people who might be interested in helping animals in the wake of a disaster know how they can provide aid, or how they can get appropriate training from a shelter, a local county or state emergency response team, or national organization that provides disaster response, like The HSUS).
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