Flood! Important Tips to Keep You, Your Family and Your Pets Safe During Floods

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Washington, D.C. – Floods are among the most terrifying and destructive of natural disasters. Having an emergency plan ready for your family, your pets, and farm animals, can save valuable time when time is short and the water is rising. The experts at American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services™ have compiled some important information to help.

Before the flood

  • Evacuate your family and pets as early as you can along with, food, meds, water, leashes, and pets’ carrying cases.
  • Plan multiple routes to higher elevations and a safe destination. Avoid routes near bridges. Have a safe walking route planned out, too. Animals need comforting, too.
  • Make sure your animals are wearing collars and ID; take their vaccination papers and a photo in case you become separated and need to identify your pet if it is rescued to a shelter.Following a disaster, keep your pets on a leash.  Changes in the landscape may confuse them and fences and other landmarks may have changed, making it more likely for them to become lost.
  • Stock extra pet supplies in your car.
  • Never leave children or pets home alone during a flood watch or warning. If water rises too fast you may not be able to get back to them.
  • Don't leave pets tethered or crated without you.
  • Practice loading large animals into a trailer and driving it before you have to.
  • If you can't evacuate large animals, take them to high ground and do not tether them.
  • Halter all horses before a flood. Let them out of barns or stalls to fields and close barn and stall doors so they cannot get trapped inside.
  • Open all interior pasture gates.
  • Put ID on animals and turn them out.
  • Maintain a waterproof box with halters, leads, meds, bandages, fly spray, food.
  • Shut off all electrical breakers and close gas and water valves.


During the flood

  • Stay tuned to emergency channels and heed instructions. If you are in a flood watch area, never leave your children pets at home alone. Disasters can change quickly and you may not be able to get back home to them.
  • If you must leave your pet to evacuate, plan ahead to leave them with a neighbor, relative or friend who can care for them during the flood.
  • Never leave your pets at home to fend for themselves.
  • Be careful when allowing pets outside where they may encounter sharp or toxic debris.
  • Do not tether, crate or restrain your animals – allow them escape routes with access to higher ground.


After the flood

  • Use caution when returning home and walking on higher ground. Snakes, insects and other animals may have found refuge there.
  • Be cautious about letting children or pets play in or drink ground water. Water may be contaminated.
  • Be cautious about all food, which may have spoiled when electricity was interrupted.
  • Keep your dogs on a leash and cats in a carrier.
  • Watch for objects that could cause injury or harm to your children or pets.
  • Given pets time to re-orient. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and cause your pet confusion or to become lost.
  • Keep children and pets away from downed power lines and debris.
  • Keep an eye on children’s emotional reaction to the crisis. Talk to children – and just as important – listen to them. Reassure them frequently that you, local officials, and their communities are all working to keep them safe and return life back to normal. Watch for symptoms of stress, including clinginess, stomachaches, headaches, nightmares, trouble eating or sleeping, or changes in behavior. If you are concerned about the way your children are responding long after the crisis is over, consult your doctor, school counselor or local mental health professional.
  • Uncertainty and change in the environment affect animals, too, presenting new stresses and dangers. Your pet’s behavior may change after a crisis, becoming more aggressive or self-protective. Be sensitive to these changes and keep more room between them, other animals, children or strangers. Animals need comforting, too. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs. If possible, provide a safe and quiet environment, even if it is not their own home.
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    About American Humane Association
    Since 1877 American Humane Association has protected children, pets and farm animals. Though its associations with scientists, veterinarians and academics, American Humane Association delivers groundbreaking research, education, training and services to a wide network of organizations, agencies, and businesses. You can help make a difference with us. Visit American Humane Organization at www.americanhumane.org Click in donate, or call 1-800-578-4142.

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