Hurricane Season Is Almost Here!

— Written By and last updated by Patricia Burch
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With hurricane season beginning in June, it’s a good time for a reminder of the many steps we can take to prepare ourselves, our pets, and farm animals for the coming months. County and State Emergency Services, American Red Cross, and response organizations across the state and country are committed to helping residents with these preparations. Of course, we know all too well the devastating impacts of a named storm; but somehow, life gets so busy that preparing gets put off. Hurricane Matthew is a fresh reminder of why this is not a good idea!

The following tips are specific to some of the most important members of our family…our animals. Please make sure your animals have been vaccinated for the most common disease concerns of this area. Having vaccinations will not only be helpful if they were to need sheltering, but also if they were to get loose during or after a storm, not to mention they need everyday protection from these diseases. Your veterinarian should be your first source for advice as to what is needed, but here is a list of what he or she may include for your horse as well as your pets:

Dogs: Distemper/Hepatitis/Parvovirus/Parainfluenza (DHP PV) combination, Bordetella (kennel cough), rabies, and heartworm prevention.
Cats: Feline Upper Respiratory Viral Combination (FVRCP), rabies,
Feline Leukemia
Horses and other equines: Influenza, Rhinopneumonitis, Eastern & Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE & WEE), tetanus, rabies, strangles, West Nile
Virus, and a current (yearly) negative Coggins Test for Equine Infectious Anemia

In addition to having your animal vaccinated, here is a checklist of other items to consider and prepare for in your disaster plan:
1. Keep a collar and tag on animals that should normally wear collars. Have a halter with your horse’s name on it and your phone number. Small tags similar to those for pets can be used. Microchips are another option for companion animals. Talk to your veterinarian about this option of permanent identification to help if your animal is lost.
2. Identify several possible locations where you can take your animals, should you have to evacuate.
3. Start a buddy system with someone in your neighborhood, so they will check on your animals during a disaster, in the event you aren’t home.
4. In addition to your regular supply of animal food have at least a week’s supply on hand to be used during a disaster.
5. You should have at least a week’s supply of water in storage at all times for your animals.
6. Take several pictures of the animals and keep these pictures with your important insurance papers that you would take if you needed to evacuate.
7. Talk to your vet before a disaster strikes to see if he/she has a disaster plan and could assist you with sheltering.
8. Know where the animal shelters or animal rescue organizations are in your area. In Clinton, the Sampson County Livestock Facility is the designated county companion animal shelter during and after disaster events, which is opened when requested by Emergency Management and county administration.

Hopefully, this finds you already prepared for the season, but if not, please take the time now to make final preparations! For more information on preparing your family, including pets, for hurricane season, contact the Cooperative Extension Center at 910-592-7161 or Sampson County Emergency Services, at 910-592-8996. Other helpful websites to visit for hurricane preparedness tips are:

Department of Homeland Security

American Red Cross

North Carolina Emergency Preparedness

NC Disaster Information Center