Tornadoes are among the most terrifying and destructive natural phenomena – and they rarely give much warning. Just this past weekend, a series of tornadoes tore through six states: Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, leaving paths of destruction in their wake. Lives were lost and hundreds of people remain unaccounted for. Our thoughts are with all those impacted by the deadly ramifications of these tornadoes.
Having an emergency plan in place for your entire family, including your pets, is critical to staying safe during a tornado or severe storm. The American Humane Rescue team has put together a series of tips to help before, during and after a tornado strike:
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.
- Make your tornado-safe area pet-friendly by removing any dangerous items such as tools or toxic products.
- Keep your pet disaster 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 extricate them quickly and safely. Eliminate any unsafe hiding areas from which it may be difficult to remove your animal in a hurry.
DURING A TORNADO:
- If an evacuation is possible, take your pets with you. Make sure you have your pet disaster preparedness kit and that your animals have proper identification including microchips and collars with current ID tags.
- If you cannot evacuate, take your entire family – including pets (both indoor and out) – to your tornado-safe room.
- 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 TORNADO HAS PASSED:
- Use caution when 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, water or liquids that could be contaminated from the storm.
- Keep pets away from downed power lines and debris.
By following these tips, you can prepare to protect your loved ones if disaster strikes. If you come across an animal that may be in trouble in the aftermath of a tornado, contact your local animal control as soon as possible.