Tornadoes ravaged the Midwest and Southern states recently. Homes were destroyed, businesses ruined, and lives were lost. Undoubtedly, pets, too, were lost though not counted among the deaths. Pets, like children, are helpless in the throws of a catastrophic event and must be looked after in much the same way. Here are a few tips to ensure that your pets remain safe in the event that a tornado touches down in your area.
* Have a designated safe room or tornado shelter that is easily accessible to you, and make sure everyone staying at your home knows where this safe room is located.
* Acquire airline quality crates for each of your pets in the proper size. If your safe room is inside your home, keep these crates inside. If you have an outdoor tornado shelter, keep the crates in an area where they can be quickly accessed should you need to leave your home and seek shelter.
* Plan provisions for your pet in your preparedness kit. Ensure the pet(s) will have plenty of water and food. Don’t forget to include a water dish or bowl as well. If your pet needs medications of any sort, consider adding an emergency supply of medication that will last your pet for at least seven days. Unless the medication must be refrigerated, store it alongside your other emergency provisions. If the medication must be stored cool, consider packaging a seven day supply within a gallon sized freezer bag and store as normal. Bags of this size can be grabbed quickly as you seek safety.
* Consider adding puppy pad or perhaps a litter box to your safe location. Many animals become fearful during storms and may feel the need to relieve themselves during the time you are forced to remain locked away for safety. Additionally, if space permits, consider adding a few toys that your pet can play with in the event that you are required to seek shelter for an extended time.
* Be certain to have a leash and collar for each pet with emergency contact numbers.
* Discuss with your family members who is responsible for taking the pets to the safe room or shelter.
When the Tornado Watch Is Issued:
* As soon as the tornado watch is issued, place your pets in their carriers. If your safe room is within your home, you may wish to move the pets to that location at this time. If your pets typically live outside, bringing them inside at this time can be a matter of life and death. Your pet is no greater chance at surviving a tornado in the yard or kennel than a human child would have in the same location.
* It is important that pet owners understand that your animal can sense the tension you feel. If you are especially frightened, your pet is likely to experience greater fear and nervousness.
* Gather any emergency gear or supplies that you were not able to store within your safe room or tornado shelter and store these items near the pets.
If a Tornado Warning Is Issued:
* Immediately proceed to your tornado shelter or safe room for the duration of the warning.
* Once you are in a safe area, do not turn back to retrieve a forgotten or desired item. Instead, make a mental note and remember to pack the item with your emergency supplies next time.
* Do NOT open the door to your shelter until the warning has been lifted, especially if a sudden quiet develops. Large tornadoes often have an “eye” in which a brief period of calmness exists. Again, do not exit your safe room or shelter until the warning for your area has been lifted.
* You may allow your pets outside of the crates while in your shelter or safe room. Your pet may feel safer if he or she is being cuddled, especially during times when tornadic winds are loud or a severe thunderstorm accompanies the tornado.
Once Danger Has Passed:
* Again, do NOT open the door to your safe room or shelter until the warning has been lifted.
* Before exiting the safety of your shelter, be certain that your pets have been safely secured in their crates. Under no circumstances should you allow your pet to run freely outside the shelter, especially if there has been damage to your home or living area. Debris, various fluids that contain chemicals, and downed electrical lines are all life-threatening to your pet(s).
* If you have sustained damage from a tornado, alert emergency officials. If your must allow your pet on the ground, be certain to apply the leash before removing him or her from the carrier so that you have the ability to determine the location that your pet chooses to roam. Under no circumstances should you allow your pet to drink from puddles after a tornado.
* If you have not sustained any damage, be thankful.