It happens so fast, you barely know what hit you. While hurricanes take days to make their way to landfall, a tornado can pop up in an instant, and wreak havoc on everything that falls in its path. And although tornadoes have been experienced on every continent on the globe – minus Antarctica – the vast majority of twisters develop in the central region of the United States, known as “Tornado Alley.” There, in Tornado Alley, twisters are far too common. Many cause minimal damage. Sadly, that’s not always the case.
In 2013, Moore Oklahoma was hit hard with a tornado that had winds of up to 190 miles per hour, causing EF-4 damage (EF-5 is the worst). 24 people died, and 377 were injured.
While we do all we can to prepare for tornadoes (build shelters, create structures that are designed to keep us safe), sometimes we forget to come up with a plan for our pets. To this day there are still dogs and cats displaced from natural disasters, including from the Moore tornado. In order to avoid your pet experiencing this fate, here’s how to prepare for the what-ifs.
1. Make Your Tornado-Safe Area Animal Friendly – If you live in a tornado-prone region of the country, then chances are you have a safe area designed for you and your family. But is it designed for your pets as well? For example, make sure you close off any nooks or crannies that your cats might run to when scared, particularly if these crannies lead outside. Also, as many safe areas are beneath ground, make sure that you have no dangerous tools or toxins around.
2. Include Your Pets in Drills – The best way to stay cool under pressure is to practice. Musicians do it. Athletes do it. And if you live in an area that experiences tornadoes, you should practice your evacuation drills from time to time. While many families do this, not everyone takes their pet along as well. The more often you bring your pet on your drills with you, the easier it’ll be to ensure your pet’s safety during a real disaster. Not only will these drills make the process familiar for your pet, but it’ll also make you prepared for what you’ll need to do in order to get your cat, dog or other animals to safety.
3. Keep Pet Supplies In Your Safe Area – Who knows how long you might be in your safe area. You’d hate to think about it, but maybe you’ll be trapped in there for hours, or days. Be sure to equip your safe area with food, water, treats, a crate (this will give your pet a safe place within your safe area), and even a litter box or puppy pads.
4. Keep Your Pet ID’d – Even if your dog is at home, resting comfortably on a couch, make sure he had a collar and tag on him. Even if your cat never leaves the house, make sure she’s collared and ID’d. If a tornado strikes, your pets might try to run away, or may be swept away amid the chaos. Ensuring your pets are always wearing some form of identification will help you reunite once the storm passes. And, to increase your chances of reuniting, microchip your pets. Collars and tags are known to fall off or wear away. And, in moments of desperation, some people might purposely remove a collar and take your pet as their own. A microchip will prove – no matter what – that this is your pet.
Hopefully you never have to worry about your pet’s safety when a storm comes, but each and every year it seems we’re reminded that we’re not invincible. Neither are our pets. Help them improve their chances of survival with these easy steps.