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Tornado Survival Kit: Prepare For Disaster

As the year ends and the world begins to almost wander into 2022, there are certain things you may want to start preparing for, especially if you live in a location that is prone to natural disasters such as tornados. Tornadoes tend to occur more frequently during the spring and summer months, so now, when you’re tornado-free, you should use this time to prepare.

A tornado spawns from a thunderstorm
A tornado spawns from a thunderstorm

When it comes to tornados, there isn’t much to be done other than weathering it, but there are ways to make your time of weathering more seamless than otherwise.

If you take the time to prepare certain elements now–such as a tornado survival kit–you’ll be that much more prepared for when Mother Nature decides to slam into your area.

What Should You Have in Your Tornado Survival Kit?

Although you will customize your kit so that it’s filled with supplies that will specifically help your family, there are certain items that you shouldn’t go without.


According to, the government website about natural disaster preparedness, they recommend the following items in your tornado survival kit:

  • Water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation)

This is one of the most important components of your survival kit. Although it’s not ideal, humans can live up to two months without food or other sustenance so long as they have water. As such, water is the most crucial part of your kit.

Assuming you have the space for it, you can increase this by however much you’d like. But whereas the human body can’t survive for very long without water (only around a week), it can survive for much longer if lacking food.

  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and an NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert

If you can get a connection to a network or radio station, you’ll be able to keep apprised of the news as it comes in.

A radio is essential to receive emergency information
A radio is essential to receive emergency information
  • Flashlight, Extra Batteries, and Whistle

The flashlight will help you to have some light so you can see things (which will be very helpful if the power goes out or any other light source you have in your shelter stops working). The extra batteries are to keep your flashlight powered up, although, even if you have a lot of batteries, try to keep your flashlight only for emergencies.

The flashlight can also double as a way to signal for help in case you’re trapped or you can’t make other noise. Additionally, the whistle can help in the same way (to signal for help).

  • First Aid Kit

Although you might not want to think about it, when it comes to natural disasters, the possibility of physical injury increases. Just in case you or any of your loved ones end up with injuries as the tornado is ravaging the land, you can make sure to care for basic injuries.

  • Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)

Especially when it comes to tornados, you’re going to be surrounded by a lot of kicked-up dust. Even if you don’t suffer from allergies or breathing problems, the amount of dust that might be kicked up can make the air difficult to breathe. Dust masks can help with that, however!

  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)

Especially when it comes to a natural disaster, certain elements of daily life might end up taking a back seat to survival. One of those elements is personal hygiene! Although staying alive tends to outweigh personal hygiene in severity, it is still very important. As such, keeping these supplies on hand can help you with keeping as clean and sanitary as possible.

  • Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
  • Manual can opener (for food)

This one might seem a bit odd, but it can save your life! You can have all the stored food one could imagine, but if you have no way of getting to the food, you’ll be stuck. Make sure to keep this tool on hand because, not only will it help open food, you could probably use it in other ways in a pinch as well.

  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

Assuming that cell service remains intact during the tornado (or that it’s brought back online quickly in the wake of the destruction), having a cell phone that can tap into emergency services and the local phone network is important. Not only will you be able to keep abreast of what’s going on outside of your shelter, but you’ll also be able to contact loved ones in the area and make sure that they’re also all right.

This list may seem quite long, but in truth, this is only the basics. If your only goal is basic survival, this list should help you achieve that. However, if you’d like to strive for comfort in the wake of a natural disaster – which can help you overcome any loss in the wake of the disaster – there are other options that you could add to your kit as well.

Non-Essentials (But Still Important!)

Some of these ideas were updated in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. If the CDC ever gives the world the all-clear, you should also update your kit for things that are no longer applicable.

However, to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19 and any of its variants, please stick to the following list for additional items to add to your tornado survival kit. Some of these items include:

  • Masks (for everyone ages two and above)
  • Soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces

Similar to the moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties, these supplies will help you remain sanitary. They will also help prevent the spread of diseases and illnesses.

  • Prescription medications

About half of all Americans use prescription medication daily. However, when there’s an emergency, these people might lose access to their medication (as stores shut down for safety). Because of this, you should look into trying to get prescription refills from an open pharmacy as we wander into tornado season. Organize and protect your prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins to prepare for an emergency.

Be certain to pack any prescription medications in your tornado survival kit
Be certain to pack any prescription medications in your tornado survival kit
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, or laxatives
  • Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens, lens solution
  • Infant needs, formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler’s checks. This one may seem like a counter-intuitive action for anyone who has experienced life during COVID-19. Although COVID-19 has sort of switched the world into a cashless and touch-free society, keeping cash or traveler’s checks on hand can be helpful in the wake of an emergency. So far as the federal reserve is aware, cash will always be worth something, so it’s best to have some on hand.
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels, and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles, or other activities. Any sort of distraction can be helpful to pass the time when it comes to natural disasters. You may have to wait days or even weeks before you’re able to surface, so anything that can help to pass the time is worth the investment.

On top of all of this, you can add other things to your tornado survival kit. However, make sure that whatever you’re adding to your kit is necessary. This is not the time to add your curling iron and reclining sofa. Both of those – and items like these – will only take up power and resources better suited to keeping you and your family alive.

Maintain Your Tornado Survival Kit

Once you’ve made sure that your kit is filled with all the essentials, you may think you’re done. However, that could not be further from the truth.

It should go without saying that, if you use anything in your kit – during a natural disaster or otherwise – replace it as soon as you can. You don’t want you or your family to need a specific item, but not have access to it.

In a natural disaster, any one of the aforementioned items can make the difference between life or death for your family. Don’t let yourself lapse on keeping your kit updated.

For the record, “updated” in this case also means that you must switch out expired items when they expire. Check on your tornado survival kit periodically so that you can ensure you have effective and non-spoiled supplies. This will ensure that the items in your kit are as potent and will have the highest efficiency possible.

Locations For Your Kit

If your home has one, the basement is a good location to keep your tornado survival kit
If your home has one, the basement is a good location to keep your tornado survival kit

Perhaps this seems obvious, but when it comes to the location for your kit, it’s best to put it in the place where you’ll be hunkering down!

This way, so long as you keep your kit well-stocked and in that location, you’ll know it’s ready for you. It’ll be one less thing you have to worry about when it comes time to shelter from the tornado.

Having said that, you should also keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with having multiple kits. If you do this, you can store them in various “safe” places within your home or at another family member or friend’s house. This would allow you to make sure you’re prepared, even if you aren’t able to make it to your “shelter area.”

Although this scenario is unlikely, it is still possible. Don’t let it happen to you. Make sure you’re prepared for all eventualities and for the last time . . . double- and triple-check that your tornado survival kit is up to date and filled with non-expired essentials.

If you have another suggestion to include in our tornado survival kit, let us know.