Pet Safety

How to Prepare Your Pet For a Tornado?

You never know when Mother Nature is going to knock on your door (or knock it down!). In a split second, you can find yourself in a natural disaster. Tornados can happen with little to no warning. Pet owners can still take many steps to prepare in advance.  

Animals who must fend for themselves in the event of a natural disaster can become misplaced, injured or worse. Missing pets can also add to the stress you’re likely already feeling. It’s important to take all the steps necessary to prepare yourself for these events.   

If you are unsure of what to do before, during, and after a tornado, you’re in the right place! Keep reading to get tips and guidelines for how best to prepare.  

Before the tornado

Step 1: Have a plan 

In advance of a tornado, you should create a plan for what to do if one hits. Have an idea of where you will go in your home during an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, or flood. If you don’t have a tornado shelter or basement, designate a room in your house as the safe room. This room should be the smallest, innermost room on the lowest floor and should have no windows, skylights, or glass doors. Practice this plan with your pets so that they can grow accustomed to it and be comfortable in their carriers. For example, your “in-place” plan may be to put your pet in his or her carrier and then get into a bathtub with a mattress over you. Practice doing this with your pet so that it isn’t a foreign concept to them when a real emergency occurs.  

If you will have time and are instructed to evacuate, make sure you know where you will evacuate to and if your pets are allowed there. If your plan doesn’t allow for pets, choose a designated caregiver who can take care of them. Have a list of people in your circle as well as animal shelters and veterinarians who you know could look after your pets in case of an emergency. 

Because tornados can occur so abruptly, make sure your pets always have proper identification on them so that you can be reunited in case they become separated from you somehow. Be sure their collar is secure, the tag is legible, and all your contact information is displayed clearly and accurately. Another good way to keep track of your pets is to get them microchipped. This can be a better option if you live in a tornado-prone area as collars can often become loose in these storms. If your pet is microchipped, make sure the registration is up-to-date and include an extra emergency number of a relative or friend that lives outside of your area. If your phone service is interrupted, your backup contact can be notified.   

Step 2: Have emergency supplies ready 

If you live in an area that’s prone to tornados, it’s incredibly important that you have a disaster kit prepared that you can quickly grab and take on the go if needed. You may be forced to leave your home at a moment’s notice so you need to prepare beforehand.  

In this bag, you should keep all the supplies you may need in an emergency. This means leashes, harnesses, and carriers as well as a week’s supply of food and water, bowls, and cat litter if needed. If your pet eats canned food, bring a can opener. A pet carrier is essential during an evacuation as it can provide your pet with a safe space, make it easier to transport your pet quickly, and is often required at evacuation shelters. Label the carrier with your pet’s name, breed, age, sex, current address, important medical information, and your contact information.  

In terms of medications, you should have at least two weeks of your pet’s prescribed medications on hand. In addition, keep heartworm and flea preventatives on hand and apply them to your pet before placing them in an evacuation facility as they may be exposed to fleas there. Keep a list of all the medications your pet needs with instructions on when and how to give it to your pet as well as the dosage they will need. Keep these instructions in a waterproof container alongside your pet’s medications and medical records.  

Put everything together in a travel kit that you can take with you in case you need to leave quickly. All the items that should be in your travel kit are listed below: 

  • Identification of your pet. This should have a photo of your pet and an ID tag with the owner’s name, address, and phone number on it 

  • Necessary medical records and information on any medical conditions or behavioral problems 

  • Information on your pet’s feeding schedules 

  • A list of veterinarians and 24-hour emergency animal hospitals that are close to your destination if you need to evacuate  

  • A few toys or items that can provide your pet with comfort during this scary time! 

  • Pet food and water (week’s supply) 

  • Food and water bowls 

  • Litter box with extra litter and/or poop bags 

  • Pet bed 

  • Pet carrier 

  • Leash 

  • Collar 

  • Harness 

  • Blanket 

  • Supplies for yourself (food, flashlight, radio, etc.) 

Other optional but recommended items are treats and potty pads. Treats can be a good way to soothe your pet and let him or her know they’re going to be okay. We recommend packing training pads because they can be useful if your pet needs to reliever himself before it’s safe to be outdoors.   

Step 3: Be prepared and stay informed 

Pay attention to the weather forecast. If there is any potential for severe weather, continuously check-in to see if there are developments. Learn the weather terminology so that you know what everything means and know when you should be taking cover.  

Before a tornado hits, make digital copies of any important documents and review your insurance policies. Take any measures possible to protect your home in advance.  

If you know a tornado is coming, get all your pets inside immediately! 

During the tornado

As soon as a tornado warning is issued or you get word that one is coming, act quickly and take cover. On average, you will only have 13 minutes of notice. Put your pets in their carrier and take them to the safe room. Do not open any windows. Once inside the safe room, cover both yourself and your pet carriers with a mattress or blanket. If your safe room is in the laundry room, you can put a small carrier inside your dryer with the dryer door open. The dryer is a double-walled metal appliance, so it offers good crush protection.  

Keep yourself and your pets as calm as possible. Speak to them in a soothing voice and if possible, refrain from acting afraid. You can give them treats and pet them if it is safe to do so. If you have a working weather radio on you, listen to it to stay updated on the tornado’s whereabouts. Don’t leave the safe room until you are absolutely sure it is safe to do so.  

After the tornado 

Once the storm has passed, listen to what the authorities are advising you to do. Update your friends and family about your situation and document any damages for your insurance company. Keep your pets on a leash or in their carrier until the area is 100% safe and your pet is calm. Make sure to give them lots and lots of love and attention before, during, and after a hurricane to ensure that they are as calm as they can be during a scary event like this.  

Be incredibly patient with your pets. Their environment may look and smell different than before, which can throw them off and make them feel very anxious. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible and understand that some behavioral problems may occur in response to the stress of the storm.  

For any other questions you may have about what to do for your pets in the event of a natural disaster, check out our Spot Pet Insurance webpage!




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