No surprise here, but September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. This seems pretty fitting for the month that sits right in the heart of hurricane season, especially this year with Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma causing devastation in the Gulf Coast and Florida over the last few weeks.

But with the many stories surrounding the despair of some and heroics of others in Houston, Miami, Tampa Bay, etc., what has seemingly fallen through the cracks is the effort that was made by many to save their beloved family pets during mandatory evacuations.

Proper preparation for pets requires more than just the basics like buying pet supplies such as flea and tick prevention for dogs or cat medicine for your feline friend.

A truly prepared pet owner develops a contingency plan that will ensure their pet’s safety during a natural disaster and/or a subsequent evacuation.

To help those who haven’t already prepared their pets for evacuation, here are some tips from Vet Supply Source to get you started.

Get Informed

It’s first important to know what natural disasters could affect your area. This will give you a better idea of what pet supplies you might need, how much you’ll need, and how to formulate your plan. Have a radio handy so that you can tune into your NOAA Weather local emergency station. Also monitor TV and other forms of media if there are indications that a natural disaster is approaching. It is also a good idea to sign up for mobile alerts and mobile warnings about severe weather in your area. You can download the FEMA app to receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations in the United States.

Have a Plan

Leaving a pet behind during an evacuation would be not only emotionally taxing, but it also could result in the animal being lost, injured or worse. Make a plan that helps your pet be as prepared to evacuate as you are. A good first step to your plan could be checking in with a neighbor or friend who lives nearby to see if they’d be willing to check on your pets or take care of your animals in the event that you are unable to get to them yourself.

Next, look up pet-friendly shelters in your area that will accommodate you and your pet(s). This is easier said than done because many emergency shelters cannot accept pets because of public health reasons. If you cannot find a pet-friendly shelter near you, look into pet hotels, animal hospitals or boarding facilities that could possibly watch your pet until you’re able to reconnect with them. Keep in mind that most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will require your pet’s medical records to make sure all of their vaccinations are up to date. Worse comes to worst, consider an out-of-town friend or relative to send your pet to for the time being.

Another, more advanced measure that pet owners can take is having their pet microchipped. Doing so can make looking up your address and phone number easy if your pet is lost.

Build a Kit

Putting together a kit for your pet will also go a long way in helping them survive, as well as keep them happy and comfortable during a stressful time. Your kit should include: food (at least a three-day supply in an airtight, waterproof container); water (at least three days’ worth and specifically for your pets); medicine and medical records; microchipping documents; first-aid kit; collar and leash; pet carrier; sanitation supplies; and some familiar items such as toys, treats and bedding.