Over two million people lost power in the East during the summer of 2009, and many were without power for weeks. Being home-bound in the heat with no power is not only dangerous for you, but also for your dogs, cats, fish, reptiles, birds, and critters. If you can prepare for such an emergency ahead of time, you and your pets will be much more comfortable.
Extreme heat kills hundreds of people and pets each year. Now more than ever, it's important to prepare for spikes in temperature, brown-outs, black-outs, and heatstroke. Don't let a simple power outage put your pets at risk of death.
As veterans of the Southwest, we are familiar with the dangers of heat and hope we can give you some ideas on how to cope. Here are some helpful tips in preparing and coping for power loss.
- Know that senior pets are especially at risk. They have a more difficult time releasing excess heat and tend to run hot on the best of days.
- Understand that indoors may not be the best solution. Focus on creating an area with shade and plenty of ventilation.
- Damp towels will help you stay cool.
- Don't forget about your fish and birds. They don't do well in heat and they should be a first priority. (Instructions on caring for them can be found here: Keeping You and Your Pets Safe Without Power in Winter)
- Water is of utmost importance during power outages. Be sure your pet has easy access to cool, clean water at all times.
- Know how to make a self-powered air-conditioner from a 5-gallon bucket (or old cooler). Instructions can be found here.
- Know what the symptoms of heatstroke are (check out out Heat Related Pet Resources and how to pull your pets out of it without placing them into shock.
- Know CPR for pets and people.
- Have a plan - here's our Checklist for Pet Safety During Storm
Remember that heat kills!
Preparing for Power Loss
Light: Candles are very dangerous for people and pets, yet they are still the “go to” item for creating light. Instead of candles, consider Battery Powered Lanterns and lights that can keep your pets wear and help keep them illuminated (such as PupLight).
Generator: This is the optimal solution to any power outage but not everyone can afford it. Either work with a neighbor to discuss power-sharing opportunities or consider a smaller generator that will assist you in powering things such as a fish tank filter and a few lights.
Protecting Fish: Fish are particularly susceptible to power outages and the second that filter stalls, your beloved aquariums are at risk. Consider a Marina Battery-Operated Air Pump that runs in the morning and evening to help keep aquariums aerated.
- Drink a LOT of water. Generally our body eliminates waste from the prior day, so if you feel suddenly dehydrated, you've already been dehydrated. It's important to drink even when you don't feel like you need it.
- Coax your pets to drink a lot of water. This is really important for cats who don't generally enjoy drinking water on the hottest of days. Make it into a game if you have to.
- Keep windows and doors open at night to allow for air circulation and cooler temps. However, be sure to close them in the early morning.
- Cold showers can help you and your pet. Stand under the hose and hope the water is cool.
- Use cooling bandanas around your neck. They can help you keep your core temperature lower.
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day. Small meals help your body not work as hard throughout the day.
Stay at Home
- Keep windows and doors open for ventilation, but cover windows with sheets or shades to reduce heating from sunlight.
- Keep extra water bowls out for your pet as they should be encouraged to drink.
- Know the signs of heatstroke
- Know your pet: Short-nosed dogs will have a much more difficult time with the heat and humidity as they are not able to cool off or stay cool as easily as long-nosed pets. Keep pugs, boxers, shihtzus and other dogs and cats in a cool area.
- Know the ambient Temperature: Humidity makes it far more difficult for pets to cool down, as they have a different cooling mechanism.
- Know how to cool pets down: If you suspect your dog has overheated or suffering from heat exhaustion, take pet to the veterinarian immediately.
- Take a drive: If you decide to climb into the car and drive around a bit to cool off, be sure your pet is properly secured. Never leave your pets in the car and if you get out to take a walk, be sure your pets paws are protected.
- Keep a Bug-Out Bag: Keep copies of your paperwork for pets in the bag so you don't have to worry about finding them in case you need to leave. All boarding facilities will require this paperwork.
- Pet-friendly hotels: There are thousands of hotels that allow pets, many of which can be found online. Print out a list of pet-friendly hotels, boarding facilities, and veterinary facilities. If your power is out, you will not have internet access to look up these groups.Call them ahead of time and make sure you have the paperwork they require stored in your bug-out bag.
- Friends and relatives: If you cannot locate or afford a pet friendly hotel or resort, ask friends or relatives with power to house your pets for a few days.
- Boarding Facilities: There hundreds of boarding facilities and private residences who allow pets to board by the day or for longer periods of time. Google “boarding” or “Dog daycare” for the results closest to you.
“This extreme heat and humidity can pose health risks for people, but it’s also a dangerous time for our pets,” said Niki Dawson, director of disaster response for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States reminds everyone that the heat can be fatal for their pets and urges them to take precautions to protect our furry friends during this record-setting hot spell.”