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Include your pet in hurricane preparation

There are steps you should take before, during, and after a storm to keep your non-human family members safe and secure

As you finalize your preparations before Fiona arrives tonight, don’t forget your pets.

Catherine Stevens is the Communications Manager with the Animal Disaster Response Team in Nova Scotia.

There are steps you should take before, during and after a storm to keep your non-human family members safe and secure, she told CityNews 95.7.

Before the storm, just like everyone else in your family, your pet needs an emergency kit.

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You will need to make sure your cat, dog, hamster or lizard has enough food and water for 72 hours. The latter is more important if water is drawn from a private well, or if you live in a high-rise building that uses an electrically powered pump to deliver water to the upper floors.

And if you have low water, canned food can be a temporary solution.

“This canned food gives them a little water, so at least they get some water in their system,” she explained.

If you have an outdoor cat, make sure they are indoors long before conditions start to deteriorate, as flash floods, strong winds, flying debris, and fallen power lines all pose risks.

During a storm, keeping your pet close to you can help keep him calm. Music can help eliminate frightening noises, and if this has not worked in the past, soothing treatments may be an option.

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

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

In the event of an evacuation, you may need a carrier to transport your pet.

“If you have reptiles, and if you can’t move your aquarium and you don’t have the possibility to keep warm, heat a hot water bottle,” she suggested. “If you have a barbecue, use it up, wrap it in a towel, put it in a pillowcase and go for it.”

Make sure your pet has a microchip, and you have a picture of him and a first aid kit with any medications he might need.

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

“Please keep it on a leash for a short time first until you assess the situation in your yard,” she suggested. “There are familiar landmarks that might have swept and fallen power lines, and something might have happened in your yard. Please be careful about that.”

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

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

Fiona is described as a potential “historic and significant climate event” for our county.

Halifax is expected to start feeling the effects around dinnertime, with the storm’s peak coming overnight and into early Saturday.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage has asked those who live near the coast to be prepared to evacuate on short notice, if necessary.

If that happens, Stevens said you’ll likely only be notified in 15 minutes, so you’ll want to have everything ready going forward.

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

  • Canada Games Center, 26 Thomas Raddall Drive, Halifax
  • Acadia Center, 636 Sackville Drive, Lower Sackville
  • St. Margaret Center, 12 Westwood Boulevard, Upper Tantalun
  • Muscodupuyt Harbor Community Center, 7900 Highway 7, Muscodupuyt Harbor

There are already many closings and cancellations.

You will be able to listen to local live coverage of the storm and its aftermath starting from 6 am Saturday at CityNews 95.7.