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With the potential of more devastating storms on the horizon, the experts at American Humane Association’s Red Star™ Rescue Services have put together a series of 10 tips to help before, during and after a tornado strikes:

Before a tornado:

  • Identify a tornado-safe area large enough for your entire family and pets (often a basement or the most interior room of the house on the bottom floor).
  • Practice getting the entire family to the tornado safe area quickly during calm weather.
  • Microchip pets or put a tag on their collar with your name, address and cellphone number so they may be returned quickly in case you are separated from your pets.
  • Make your tornado-safe area pet-friendly by removing any dangerous items such as tools or toxic products.
  • Keep your family and pet preparedness kits in your tornado-safe area or close by. Ensure that you have a crate for every animal. 
  • Know your pet’s hiding places and how to quickly and safely extricate them. Eliminate any unsafe hiding areas from which it may be difficult to remove your animal in a hurry.

During a tornado:

  • If you cannot evacuate, take your entire family – including pets (both indoor and out) – to your tornado-safe room.
  • If an evacuation is possible, take your pets with you. Make sure you take your pet preparedness kit and that your animals have proper identification.
  • Pets should be put in crates or carriers in the safe room. If possible, place the crates under a sturdy piece of furniture. 

After the storm has passed, use caution allowing your pets and other family members outdoors. 

  • Exit only AFTER the entire storm has passed.
  • Assess the damage yourself first before bringing your pets outside with you. 
  • Keep your dogs on a leash and cats in a carrier.
  • Watch for objects that could cause injury or harm to your pet.
  • Allow them to become re-oriented. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and cause your pet confusion or to become lost.
  • Keep pets away from food or water or liquids that could be contaminated from the storm.
  • Keep children and pets away from downed power lines and debris. 
  • Keep an eye on children’s emotional reaction to the crisis. Talk to children – and just as important – listen to them. Reassure them frequently that you, local officials, and their communities are all working to keep them safe and return life back to normal. Watch for symptoms of stress, including clinginess, stomachaches, headaches, nightmares, trouble eating or sleeping, or changes in behavior. If you are concerned about the way your children are responding long after the crisis is over, consult your doctor, school counselor or local mental health professional.
  • Uncertainty and change in the environment affect animals, too, presenting new stresses and dangers. Your pet’s behavior may change after a crisis, becoming more aggressive or self-protective. Be sensitive to these changes and keep more room between them, other animals, children or strangers. Animals need comforting, too. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs. If possible, provide a safe and quiet environment, even if it is not their own home.

About American Humane Association and the Red Star™ Rescue Program 

American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. 

Their legendary Red Star team has been involved in nearly every major relief effort over the past 100 years, starting in World War I when they rescued wounded horses, and continuing through the decades with on-the-scene help following Pearl Harbor, Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, and Sandy, the eruption at Mount Saint Helens, 9/11, and the disasters in Memphis and Joplin. Red Star has rescued and sheltered more than 70,000 animals in just the past five years.

For more information and tips, or to support Red Star’s efforts, go to www.americanhumane.org or call 1-866-242-1877

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