Bailey, Bella, Max, Lola and Buddy. Our pets are like family members, so you want to make sure they are taken care of when a hurricane hits. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and The Humane Society offer tips to help you and your pets be prepared when a storm approaches.

First, make sure your cat or dog is wearing a collar and their identification tags are up to date. Be sure to have your cell phone number on their ID tag. Best idea – Get your pet microchipped! The best time to microchip your pet is when they get spayed or neutered. If your pet is ever lost, you’ll have a better chance of being reunited with them if they are microchipped.

Second, make sure your pet is up-to-date on all vaccinations. If you have to take your pet to an emergency shelter, they will want proof that your pet is current on all vaccinations, so make copies of their medical records. Since we live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, have supplies set aside – the same way you might keep a flashlight under the sink in case there is a power outage.

The best way to be prepared is to have a Pet Disaster-Preparedness Kit. This kit should include:

  • Food (pop-top canned or dry) and water for at least five days.
  • Medications and medical records.
  • Disposable litter trays and litter. (Aluminum roasting pans will work perfectly)
  • Garbage bags for clean up.
  • Liquid dish soap or disinfectant wipes.
  • Paper towels.
  • Blankets.
  • Sturdy leashes and harnesses.
  • Large carriers; big enough for your pet to stand, turn around, and lie down. Some shelters may require pets to stay in a carrier for hours at a time.
  • Current photos of your pet. This will help others identify them in case you become separated.

MORE: What to do to prepare for Florence now

Mark everything with your pet’s identification information. If you plan to evacuate, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND!  It’s important to call your local office of emergency management to see where you can take your pet before a hurricane hits. Public shelters may not allow pets, so you’ll need alternative options:

  • Find a pet-friendly hotel or motel.
  • Make arrangements with friends or relatives outside the immediate area.
  • Check for pet sitters on
  • Consider a kennel or veterinarian’s office.
  • Last resort, ask your local animal shelter.