Include your pet in your hurricane prep

By Meghan Groff

As you put the final touches on your preparations prior to Fiona's arrival tonight, don't forget your pets.

Catherine Stevens is the communications director with the Disaster Animal Response Team of Nova Scotia.

She told CityNews 95.7, there are steps you should be taking before, during and after the storm to keep the non-human members of your family safe and secure.

Leading up to the storm, just like for everyone else in your family, your pet needs an emergency kit.

You'll need to make sure your cat, dog, hamster or lizard has 72-hours worth of food and water. The latter is even more essential if draw water from a private well, or you live in a high-rise that uses a pump running on electricity to get water to the upper floors.

And if you're running low on water, canned food can be a temporary solution.

“That canned food gives them a little bit of hydration, so at least they're getting some water into their system,” she explained.

If you have an outdoor cat, make sure they're inside long before conditions start to deteriorate, as flash floods, strong winds, flying debris and downed power lines are all dangers.

During the storm, keeping your pet close to you can help keep them calm. Music can help drown out scary noises and if that hasn't worked in the past, calming treats may be an option.

And it might not be safe to take your dog out for a potty break, so you may want to get a pack of pee pads.

“If you have a piece of cardboard or anything like that you can set it on,” she explained. “Do what you have to do, a towel, sometimes there's a porch, whatever you can find in a storm.”

In case of evacuation, you may need a carrier to move your pet.

“If you have reptiles, if can't move your aquarium and don't have access to heating, heat up a hot water bottle,” she suggested. “If you have a BBQ, use that, wrap it in a towel, put them in a pillow case and off you go.”

Make sure your pet is microchipped, have a photo of them and a first aid kit with any medications they may need.

And once the storm passes, don't just throw your door open and let your pet run outside.

“Please keep them on a leash for the first little while until you assess the situation in your yard,” she suggested. “There's familiar landmarks that may have washed away, downed power lines, something may have blown in your yard. Please just be careful about that.”

Stevens' organization works closely with the Canadian Red Cross to make sure your animals are taken care of in an evacuation situation.

“They will set up a shelter for you, and they notify and activate us if pets are involved, then we set up a shelter for your pet,” she explained.

Fiona is being described as a potentially “significant and historical weather event” for our province.

Halifax is expected to start feeling the impacts around supper time, with the height of the storm coming overnight and into early Saturday.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage has asked those living near the coastline to be prepared to evacuate on short notice, if needed.

If that happens, Stevens said you'll likely only be given 15 minutes notice, so you'll want everything ready to go ahead of time.

Four evacuation centres in HRM will open at 8 p.m. for those that want a safe place to ride out the storm.

  • Canada Games Centre, 26 Thomas Raddall Drive, Halifax
  • Acadia Centre, 636 Sackville Drive, Lower Sackville
  • St Margaret’s Centre, 12 Westwood Boulevard, Upper Tantallon
  • Musquodoboit Harbour Community Centre, 7900 Highway 7, Musquodoboit Harbour

There are already several closures and cancellations.

You'll be able to listen to live, local coverage of the storm and its aftermath starting at 6 a.m. Saturday on CityNews 95.7.

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