Table of Contents
Check the forecast
Peak tornado season is generally between March through June. It is especially important to stay vigilant during this time of the year if you live in a region prone to tornados. Watch the regional news or tune into the local radio station to be aware of any tornado alerts. Ensure you have a battery-powered weather radio in case of power outages. You can also sign up for phone notifications. In the event of a tornado watch, pets should always be brought inside until the conditions improve.
Create a Pet Emergency Kit
Prepare a pet emergency kit that includes essential items such as food, water, medications, feeding bowls, first-aid supplies, and important documents. Make sure to include your pet’s medical records, identification (tags and microchip details), and a recent photo of your pet for identification purposes. This kit should contain enough supplies for a minimum of one week if you become displaced from home. Keep this kit in an easily accessible location near their carrier or with a spare leash and collar.
Microchip Your Pet
Microchipping your pet is an excellent precautionary measure. Ensure that your contact information linked to the microchip is up-to-date in the event you move or change your phone number. In case you and your pet get separated during a tornado, a microchip can significantly increase the chances of being reunited.
In addition to microchipping, use sturdy and visible identification tags on your pets’ collars. Include your contact information, as well as an emergency contact who lives outside your immediate area. If you get separated, a good Samaritan can help reunite you with your pet.
Designate a Safe Space
Identify a secure area within your home where you and your pets can take shelter during a tornado. Ideally, choose a room on the lowest level of your house without windows, like a basement or an interior bathroom or closet. If you choose a basement, ensure that all chemicals or hazardous items are out of reach. Make this space comfortable for your pets with their bedding and familiar toys. Consider bringing a crate or carrier into this area to prevent pets from trying to escape out of fear. The crate should be large enough for dogs to lie down and to accommodate a litter box for cats.
Practice Regular Drills
Regularly practice tornado drills with your pets, so they become familiar with the procedure. Use treats and positive reinforcement to help ease their anxiety during practice sessions. This will make them more cooperative when it’s time to seek shelter during a real tornado warning. You can train dogs to respond to tornado sirens by seeking out the designated safe space in your home.
Invest in Pet-Friendly Safety Gear
Consider purchasing pet-specific safety gear, such as pet carriers and harnesses that are extra-secure. These items can be indispensable during a tornado evacuation because fearful pets may try to escape. Ensure your pet is comfortable with these devices in advance to reduce stress during an emergency.
Plan for Evacuation
Have an evacuation plan in place that includes your pets. Identify pet-friendly shelters or hotels in your area that allow pets, and keep their contact information handy. Remember that not all shelters or hotels accept animals, so plan accordingly. Alternatively, you can ask a nearby friend or family member if they would be willing to host you and your pet in the event of an emergency.
In the event of a tornado warning, evacuation is best if it can be performed safely. Otherwise, seeking shelter within your home is another reasonable option.
Keep Your Pets on Leashes or in Carriers
During the chaos of a tornado warning, keep your pets on leashes or in carriers to prevent them from running away in fear. Even well-behaved pets may panic during a storm, so it’s essential to have control over them.
Stay Calm and Reassure Your Pets
Your pets can sense your emotions, so it’s vital to remain calm during a tornado warning. Reassure them with a soothing voice and comforting touch. A familiar toy or blanket can also provide comfort during stressful times. You can consider products like calming pheromones or thunder shirts to help alleviate anxiety.
After the Storm has Passed
Once the tornado has subsided, check the area around you for safety. Leave your pet within the shelter space and assess the damage alone. Once you have deemed it to be safe, you may remove your pets. Do not take them off leash or out of their carriers. This is a high-stress time and many pets become lost after a storm. Gradually reorient your pets to their environment.
Outdoor areas should be evaluated before dogs are let off-leash. Tornadoes have the potential to create many hazards including downed wires, broken glass, and spilled chemicals. It may be best to take your dog for leash walks until the damage has been cleared.
As a responsible pet owner, your priority is the safety and well-being of your human and animal family members. By following these 10 tornado safety tips and considering the specific needs of your pets, you can significantly increase their chances of surviving a tornado unscathed. Remember, preparation and practice are key, so start planning today to ensure the safety of your beloved companions during any emergency. Stay safe, stay prepared, and protect your pets and yourself.