What You Need - Safety Items

These are some of the items that we suggest you keep inside your shelter.  A sealable plastic storage container works very well for this purpose.

  1. First aid kit.
  2. Two day supply of critical medications such as heart or blood pressure med's, diabetic supplies, asthma inhalers, an old pair of reading glasses or contacts.
  3. A complete change of clothes for each family member, including shoes.
  4. Clean towels to help stabilize any severe trauma until help can arrive.
  5. Crescent wrench or large and small adjustable pliers to shut off gas valve on meter or propane tank if any damage has been sustained.
  6. Claw hammer and pry bar.
  7. Battery powered flashlight or lantern with an extra set of fresh batteries.
  8. Two day supply of water, 1 gallon per day per person, and one pull-off-top can of soup for each person.
  9. A magnetic key holder placed under the steps with house or car keys in case of accidental lock outs.
  10. A large blanket.
  11. Lawn chairs for comfort in case of an extended period of dangerous weather.
  12. Battery powered NOAA Weather Radio
  13. Credit card or a small amount of cash.

Other Suggestions...

For those of you who don't have your video catalog of all your household and shop contents for insurance purposes in a lock box at the bank, we suggest that you place it in a sealed ziploc bag and place it in the bottom of your storage container.

We also suggest periodically checking the vents to ensure that no vines or plants have blocked them stopping circulation.

Those with top entry shelters installed under a deck should check door clearance after a rain and periodically there after to ensure that the deck does not swell or move and block the door.

5 Things you should have in your shelter

If you don’t have a safe-room, basement or storm cellar, you need to designate one single place in the house as a tornado shelter. And you need to make sure to have these items securely placed in this location.

  1. Medication. If you have a serious illness that requires special medication, you need to keep an extra supply of that medication tucked away in your storm shelter. Remember—the bigger the tornado, the higher the likelihood that roadways are obstructed keeping the semis that bring food and medicine from getting into town. If the power is out, the stores can’t open. Hospitals will likely be jam packed. Doctor’s offices would likely be closed. A small stash of that medication is a great idea. If you wear glasses or contacts, keep extra stashed away.
  2. Simple food. No fancy prep work required. It’s not going to be tasty; it’s not meant for dinner parties, it’s meant to feed you and your family for a few days. You will need your strength. I could eat peanut butter out of a jar for days, and peanut butter keeps for a long time. Put some crackers in there and you’ve got a big snack/small meal. Tuna doesn’t need to be cooked, now comes in pouches and is high in protein. If you have an infant, you need some extra baby food. Try to put some bottled water in there too. If you have a dog or a cat, put a little dog or cat food in there.
  3. " Lumberjack” clothes. You want protective clothing. Most important—boots, thick socks, solid rugged jeans and a coat. After a tornado, debris will be everywhere. Wood, glass, nails, and pieces and parts from everything. The boots, socks and jeans will protect your legs and feet. The coat is there in case your tornado is followed by chilly air.
  4. A copy of all of your important papers. Keep it simple. Make sure you have your insurance papers, identification papers and even a list of phone numbers for credit card companies, etc. Some information about your vehicles wouldn’t be a bad idea. You won’t have room for everything, but the more information you have, the easier it will be to get the ball rolling after the storm.
  5. A battery-operated cell phone charger. I’ve got one for my iPhone. It runs off of “AA” batteries, so you’ll want extra batteries. They have solar powered chargers too. It might sound strange, but think about it. Now you can make arrangements for a place to stay, reassure family and friends that you’re ok and have a way for the insurance company to contact you. I saw lots of people posting their post-storm status on Facebook using their cell phone after the Alabama tornado outbreak. It’s simpler than making 50 phone calls.

Now, you can get really fancy and have coloring books for the kids, extra car keys, a first-aid kit, etc. I’m just getting you the basics to get you through the first few hours and days. Most of this stuff will keep for years. The food might need to be freshened every six months to a year. Even with that, the hour or two that you spend a year setting up and stocking your shelter WILL pay off in the event of a tornado.

Got an iPhone or iPad? Download our new  2 Works for You Interactive Weather Center app in Apple's app store!

And don't forget to sign up for severe weather email alerts sent to your inbox. Soon after the National Weather Service issues a warning for the county or counties of your choosing you'll be alerted with an email.