How to Keep Pets Safe During a Tornado

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If you live in a region that is prone to tornadoes, developing an emergency plan that includes your pets can help prevent your furry friends from becoming lost or injured during or after a storm.

Before a Tornado Strikes

Make your Storm Shelter Pet Friendly

Whether it is a storm cellar, a basement or a room on the ground floor of your home away from windows and exterior walls, you can make your storm shelter safe for your pet by:

  • Clearing the space of potential hazards, such as poisonous substances or sharp objects
  • Sealing off any unsafe hiding spots
  • Having a crate or carrier ready for each pet
  • Stocking your shelter with a pet emergency kit that includes:

Warning

  • There is no telling when you will be able to return to your home if you have to evacuate, so do not leave your pets behind. Take them with you, along with their emergency kits.

Storm Drills

In a tornado emergency, you may only have a few seconds to move your family members and pets to safety. Make the process smoother by:

  • Periodically stage drills in which you practice moving your family and pets to your storm shelter.
  • If you have a dog, train her to head to your designated shelter on command.

Tip

  • Pets -- cats in particular -- may be inclined to hide when frightened. Become familiar with your pets' hiding places and develop strategies for extracting them quickly in an emergency. Cut off your pets access to areas of your home where you cannot easily reach them.

In Case Your Pet Becomes Lost

If you are separated from your dog or cat during a tornado, you have a greater chance of being reunited if:

  • He is wearing a collar with an identification tag that lists his name, your phone number and address and any medical conditions a temporary caretaker should be aware of.
  • He is microchipped, which involves placing a grain-size implant in a dog or cat's skin. The implant contains a registration number associated with your name and contact information. The registration number can be accessed by reading the chip with a scanner.

During a Tornado

  • Bring pets inside at the first sign of a tornado and move the entire family to your storm shelter. 
  • Place each pet in his carrier or crate; if possible, place crates and carriers under sturdy furniture. 
  • A pet can behave out of character during a stressful situation such as a storm, so keep dogs and cats separated to prevent altercations.

After a Tornado

The aftermath of a tornado can be stressful for pets, who may find themselves disoriented -- and consequently, become lost -- if the storm has altered the environment and the landscape. Moreover, the physical damage caused by a tornado can long remain a danger to people and pets alike. Protect your pets at this time by:

  • Keeping dogs on a leash and cats in their carrier until you can access the damage. 
  • Making sure your pets stay away from debris, potentially contaminated water and food and downed power lines.

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