Posted on 02-24-2016
Cumberland County was under a Tornado Warning as I write this, so we will cut straight to the chase--when it comes to pet safety in severe weather, most of us may not have a good plan in place. Severe spring weather has crept up on us early this year and we are now facing the threat of damaging winds, potential tornadoes, and large-size hail. It is NOW that we must prepare to keep ourselves and our pets safe.
Take time now to establish your "safe place" in the event of a tornado or damaging straight line winds. The wind gusts for our area can reach up to 70 mph today and it is these winds that can often cause more damage that a tornado itself. Your safe place needs to be an interior room of your home on ground level with no windows, such as a bathroom or large closet, or a basement which is the best option. You do not want to be on the second floor of your home! Make sure your pets can fit with you in your space comfortably. Cats should be in carriers if at all possible. As a personal example, our home has an open a crawl space behind our entryway closet that has plenty of room for my four large-breed dogs and four cats (and a snake and partridge in a pear tree). Your space can be anything as long as it is windowless and can enclose you and your furry family on all four sides.
Once you have a designated safe place, make sure you have your paperwork in order! Locate your pet's important documents and files and put them in your safe place. In the event your home is damaged, most emergency relief centers require current vaccines and paperwork to allow pets in their shelters. I learned this during my time volunteering for the Red Cross. Remember: a Rabies tag is NOT legal proof of a Rabies vaccine! You will need your certificate of vaccination or invoice from the clinic that administered the vaccine. If you cannot locate these documents, your safety is of UTMOST importance and TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY if the weather worsens. If you have a Smartphone or Android device, you can download our PetPartner app available through Play Store and iPhone app store. If your email is on file with our clinic, your pet's information, vaccine and medication history can be accessed through your phone. When time is truly of the essence, this is the best way to keep your pet's files with you wherever you go.
Equip your pet with their collar (cats too!!) and keep a leash in your safe spot as well. If you have shoes for your pet, put them on. Tornadoes and squall line rains cause much destruction and devastation. If your area is hit, debris and rubble such as splinters of wood and broken glass thrown from the storms can injure your pet's feet if you need to walk through it.
If your pet is microchipped, double-check NOW that you have completed the registration online and all of your information is correct if they become lost in the storm. If your pet was microchipped through our clinic, you can go online to PetLink.com (have your pet's ID number handy) and manage your information.
Some precautions I personally take in the event a waterline is broken or power is out is keeping a bathtub full with water and our propane tank full. Once this warm front pushes through, our temperatures are going to drop. With strong line winds, the potential for power outages are sky-high. If you have gas hookup for your fireplace, you can at least heat your home efficiently with propane until power is restored. We keep ours full before any winter (it is February, right??) storm just in case so our whole furry (and scaly) family can stay warm. We are in a very unstable weather pattern this time in the season and temperatures today are fluctuating between 40 and 70 degrees. Staying on top of safety preparedness and being ready for ANYTHING is always your best defense.
Last but not least, keep your eye to the sky and an ear turned to your local weather station. There is a tornado watch in effect until 7pm this evening-- a watch means conditions are favorable for severe weather to happen and this is the best time to get a plan in place for the rest of the afternoon. The tornado warning from earlier has been allowed to expire for Cumberland County, but we are not out of the woods. Never wait until a WARNING to prepare yourself and your pets. A Tornado Warning means severe weather is happening RIGHT NOW and you need to take cover immediately. Act now, get your plan in place, and stay tuned. Our pets and families rely on us for their complete safety. Taking the steps now to prepare yourself and your household can make ALL the difference!
Please be informed. Please be safe. We are thinking of you all!
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