How to Make a Tornado Emergency Kit


Tornadoes can occur in any state at any time of year. Preparing a tornado emergency kit can help your family survive in the aftermath of this natural disaster. Buy large plastic containers with locking lids for your supplies. Store your tornado emergency kit in an easily accessible location in the basement or on the ground floor of your home. Make sure everyone in the household knows the location of your emergency supplies. Your tornado kit should contain a two-week supply of food and water along with other essentials.

Things You'll Need

  • Large plastic containers with locking lids
  • Nonperishable food
  • Bottled water
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank Public Alert-certified radio
  • Flashlights
  • Manual can opener
  • Eating utensils
  • Multipurpose tool
  • Spare batteries
  • Whistle
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Toilet tissue and personal wipes
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Plastic garbage bags and ties
  • Prescription medications, 7-day supply
  • First-aid kit
  • Emergency contact list
  • Baby food and diapers (if applicable)
  • Pet food (if applicable)
  • Helpful but optional supplies:
  • Candles
  • Lighter or waterproof matches
  • Rain gear or ponchos
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Paper towels
  • Rags
  • Work gloves
  • Towels
  • Extra clothing and shoes
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Paper and pencils
  • Scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Spare house keys

Food and Water

  • Purchase a two-week supply of bottled water for each family member. Each person requires 1 gallon of water per day, 2 quarts for drinking and 2 quarts for food preparation and personal hygiene needs. Store the water with the rest of your emergency supplies.

  • Purchase a two-week supply of nutritious, nonperishable food for your family. Unsalted nuts, granola, cereal, nut butters, low-salt crackers, energy or protein bars, canned ready-to-eat soups, canned or dried fruit, and canned or packaged low-salt tuna and chicken are good options. Powdered milk and ready-to-eat meals from sporting goods or military supply stores are also good for an emergency tornado kit. Place all unopened food in your emergency supply containers.

  • Secure a two-week supply of baby food, formula and diapers for the infants and young children in your family. Store the items in your emergency tornado kit containers.

  • Include a two-week supply of pet food in your emergency tornado kit if you have a dog or cat. Add extra water to your emergency supply for your pet. Store two weeks of water for each pet. The amount needed depends on the size and type of pet you have.

First-Aid Kit

  • Obtain first-aid supplies specifically for your emergency tornado kit. Include adhesive bandages of various sizes; gauze rolls and pads; elastic bandages; bandaging tape; alcohol swabs; soap; cotton-tipped swabs; tweezers; instant cold packs; and antibiotic ointment.

  • Assemble medicines to put in your emergency kit, including acetaminophen, aspirin and a seven-day supply of any prescription medication you or your family members take daily. If you have children, be sure to include children's-strength acetaminophen.

  • Prepare a card that notes the prescription medications taken by each family member. List the name, dosage, prescribing doctor and pharmacy. Also include the names and phone numbers of your family's doctors. This information may be useful if you need prescription medication after a tornado.

Equipment and Supplies

  • Buy a dedicated battery-powered or hand-crank Public Alert-certified radio. Keep it in the kitchen or another room of the house where it is easily accessible to all family members. At the first sign of potential tornado trouble, turn the radio on and follow all directions.

  • Assemble necessary tools and equipment for your emergency tornado kit, including a multipurpose tool; manual can opener; eating utensils; flashlights; batteries for your radio and flashlights; blankets or sleeping bags; and a whistle to help rescuers locate you. If you have a cell phone, keep a spare charger in your emergency kit.

  • Place personal hygiene supplies in your emergency tornado kit, including a two-week supply of toilet tissue; personal wipes; sanitary pads or tampons; hand sanitizer; and small and large plastic garbage bags and ties for personal sanitation. Toothbrushes and toothpaste are useful to include in your kit.

  • Put together a list of emergency contacts to keep in your tornado preparedness kit. Include information for your family members, neighbors, friends, employer, hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, local utilities and bank. Also list contact information for federal, state and local agencies involved in disaster relief, such as the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Tips & Warnings

  • Review the contents of your emergency kit at least once yearly. Check the expiration dates and replace food, water and other out-of-date supplies as needed. Select a convenient, easy-to-remember day for the annual review of your emergency kit contents, such as the first day of daylight-saving time.
  • If there is a tornado warning, take refuge in the basement or a room close to the center of the house on the lowest floor. Crouch face down and cover yourself with a blanket, sleeping bag, rug or towel, if possible. Cover your head with your hands and arms.

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