As families in the Florida Keys prepare for the upcoming storm season, they will hear about the various storm warnings, evacuation orders and how to prepare a home for a storm. With all the information swirling about, including checklists for purchasing batteries, flashlights and water, it’s important not to lose sight of protecting life — especially that of pregnant women and babies.
• Mothers-to-be need to make certain they have an alternate birth plan and location in case the order to evacuate is given. Do some research and collect phone numbers and locations for local providers in that area. In the past, some Keys mothers have evacuated and given birth in another part of the state. This scenario may be unlikely, but for the mother nearing a due date, a backup plan is essential.
• For the baby, nutritional and comfort needs must be considered first when creating a hurricane kit either at home, or for a car ride out to safer ground.
• Babies 6 months and younger need to have a supply of breastmilk or formula. For those babies that drink formula, the family needs to have a supply of safe drinking water and a method to sanitize bottles (or use disposable dispensers). Pack at least three full day and nights worth of bottles, water and formula.
• Consider packing comfort items for your child such as favorite blankets, pajamas or dolls. Having the child’s comfort items and nutritional needs already planned for can ease some of the burden of the storm. Oh, last but not least, don’t forget to stock up on extra baby wipes and diapers. Supplies can be slow to restock in stores after a storm.
Your pets are dependent on you and the decisions you make. Hurricane Katrina revealed the folly of trying to separate humans from their animals and many people and pets lost their lives. Now, however, there’s legislation in place mandating space for animals at shelters. There is never a reason to leave behind domesticated animals when evacuating from a storm. Here’s how to keep your pet safe in the event of a hurricane:
• Microchip your pet, plus have your pet wear a collar with
an ID and rabies tag. Carry pictures of your pet to aid in finding
a lost pet.
• Consider a harness (and leash) for your cat, but allow plenty of time to get them used to wearing it BEFORE a storm approaches. Get a harness made especially for cats, who can wriggle out of anything else. Cats aren’t typically fans of any type of restraint, but it could prevent a stressed-out, thunder-shy kitty from darting away and hiding.
• Prepare an evacuation pack for your pet. It should include food and water for two weeks and bowls. Keep dry food sealed in waterproof containers. Also pack kitty litter and litter trays and bring bags to pick up after your pet. Carry copies of your pets’ medical records and take your pets’ medications. Check that your crate is in good condition, or purchase one before a storm threatens.
• Storm prep and evacuation will likely be stressful on your pet. Make special efforts to minimize the stress. Look for common signs of fear; hiding, trembling or shaking, sudden urination or defecation, pacing, chewing, digging, barking or howling and an abnormal clinging behavior around the pet’s owner. Take time to comfort your pet often when your pet is fearful.