Be prepared for a disaster

Stray dog in the ruins after the Calbuco Vocano eruption in Chile

If a disaster strikes

Disasters can strike quickly and without warning. Having the right information is key to understanding hazards and managing risks for you and your pets.

Certain disasters also bring with them specific hazards, so to ensure the safety of your family and your family pet, having the right information will help you react in the right way.

Here are some specific hazards created by specific disasters:


Floods can isolate households and make it necessary for you to take care of your pet and family until assistance is available. You should prepare to be self-sufficient for at least three days in case you are cut off from utilities, food and clean water supplies.

  • Find out from your local council if your property is at risk from flooding
  • If your plan is to evacuate your pets, know the location of higher ground and consider how you will move your pets
  • If your pet comes into contact with flood water, ensure they are cleaned immediately, as the water could contain harmful chemicals.

High temperatures

Australia's hot weather can affect the health and wellbeing of your pets. Take the following precautions to prevent heatstroke in your pet:

  • Ensure your pet has enough space and shade
  • If your pet is inside, increase airflow by opening windows or running a fan
  • Avoid moving or exercising your pet in very hot weather
  • Ensure your pet has enough water - like people, animals need to drink more water in hot weather

If your pet is suffering from heatstroke, cool it down slowly using a gentle hose, sprinkler or fan. Do not use ice cold water.


Thunderstorms are short-lived but they can be dangerous. They can cause your pet to feel anxious. Take the following precautions to keep your pet calm and safe.

  • If possible, bring your pet inside during thunderstorms and supervise them
  • Many animals are unsettled by thunderstorms and they will feel safer in your company
  • If your pet is outside, take care to secure gates as they may run away if afraid.

Tropical cyclones

If you live in an area at risk from tropical cyclones, ask your local council where your closest evacuation centre is and whether it allows pets.

  • Prepare a kit that includes provisions of food, water and medical supplies for your pet.
  • If a cyclone warning is issued, move your pet inside or to a safe place
  • After a cyclone, keep your pet away from hazards such as fallen electricity lines, debris or polluted water


If you live in an area at risk from bushfires, follow your local council's guidance for your pet and yourself in a bushfire. They will advise you of where the closest evacuation centre is and whether it allows pets.

  • If you are moving animals to a safer place, do so early to avoid late evacuation
  • If you decide to stay at home when a warning is issued, take care to secure gates as your pet may run away if afraid
  • If possible, keep your pet in a quiet room inside the house, preferably with small or no windows. Provide food and plenty of water
  • On high risk days, take precautions for your pet before leaving home

Your responsibility

Across Australia, animal welfare laws require owners of animals, and those in charge of animals, to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the physical, health and behavioural needs of the animals are met.

Legislation generally bases these requirements on the Five Freedoms.

The Five Freedoms

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  3. Freedom from fear and distress
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour
  5. Freedom from discomfort

In a disaster these Five Freedoms for animals must still be met. This means you are legally responsible for your pet in a disaster.

Not all evacuation centres accept animals. It is vital to prepare a disaster plan for your pet so that you can act early and stay safe when a disaster strikes.