The weather this past Memorial Day weekend is why we all live in the Lowcountry and why so many others are moving here.
The weekend was warm but not overly hot and humid, and sunny with a few clouds slowly passing to provide short moments of shade. Where I (Perry Jameson) was, we did not even get a shower, and for those who did, it passed quickly.
With perfect weather like that it is hard to imagine hurricane season is here again. With each passing year since Hugo, it becomes easier and easier to become complacent.
Without a near-miss like Hurricane Floyd in 1999 to remind me of the reality we live where hurricanes can strike, I find myself doing less and less preparation. Has it been two or three years since I last started the generator? Is that plywood for the windows still behind the shed?
I tell myself to keep the gas cans full this time of year but instead empty them into the boat and mower. Like most of us, I take it for granted that the forecasters will be wrong or we will again be missed.
Even though I put off preparation for my home, I still make sure everything is ready in case of emergency for my pets. I want to be ready to evacuate if needed or survive at home without water and power. Leaving them at home to survive until I return is not an option. They are part of my family so are coming with us.
Each year I go through my check list to insure we have what we need. We may have added a new pet or had one pass away. A new illness may have developed requiring special medications. My vehicles may have changed requiring me to rethink how all the pets and humans will get to the in-laws. Are we going to the in-laws Eastover, Kingstree or to my sister in Virginia? These and other questions I try to answer now, not when the storm is approaching.
So here is a summary of my pet hurricane check list:
This year we have five cats and I want enough food to feed them for a week. Remember that canned food is less likely to get damaged from moisture. I will have bag of dry wrapped in a trash bag to protect it (but can also use the later for trash) and enough cans for one week. I buy the self-opening cans so do not need a can opener. My dogs Ariel and Flipper eat only dry, so I will place their week's worth of food in several Ziplock bags. By separating the food, hopefully it will all not get wet if a bag is damaged.
I have enough water for each pet for one week. So for my present number of pets (Flipper, 40 pounds; Ariel, 60 pounds; five 10-pound cats) I need to have 150 ounces per day or 1,050 ounces/week. This ends up being around 8 gallons of water.
We carry twice the amount of water needed to get us to our evacuation destination as, hopefully, my father-in-law's water in the midlands will still be working. The remainder is left at home for when we return as the water may be off for some time.
Everyone likes to eat separately, so I need seven food bowls and two water bowls.
Every year, I ask again if it is OK if we bring our pets to the location selected as our evacuation point. So far, my in-laws have said yes. With seven pets, two kids and twins on the way, this has to be asked annually.
If you will be using a hotel, call now to find several that allow pets. Do not assume the hotel last year that allowed pets still does, call again each year.
Pets separated from owners is a major problem during natural disasters. They may escape while you are at a rest stop or get lost at your evaluation location. All of my pets have microchips with the data information up to date since we have not moved.
If you have moved or your numbers have changed, make sure the company knows your new numbers and addresses or the chip may not help reunite you and your pet. We make sure everyone has a collar with our cell phone numbers and names still readable.
This year, only two of our pets are on medications: Mojo has hyperthyroidism and Ariel has arthritis. I make sure I have a week's worth of their medications to carry with us.
For Ariel and Flipper, I make sure to have several leashes. When stopped, they will always be on a leash to prevent them from separating from us.
I keep three carriers and know that Inky and Polly will share one, Ollie and Winky another and Mojo will have his own. You do not want to find out your cats are not compatible while stuck on Interstate 26.
Since our cats are indoor/outdoor, we do not have any litter boxes. However, we keep one with our evacuation supplies. For car rides more than 4 hours you may need it.
We have the same vehicles we had last year. With two girls due in July, however, we need to rethink how everyone will be transported. I will need to plan how the car seats, carriers and dogs, will all fit comfortably for our escape.
The trip to Eastover usually is under two hours, but I will plan as if it will take six to eight hours. This means we will need at least one bathroom and water break along the way.
Every year, I make sure I have what I need to protect my family and that, of course, includes the four-legged members.
Dr. Henri Bianucci and Dr. Perry Jameson are with Veterinary Specialty Care LLC. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.