Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Prepare for a Tornado

Items for Your Tornado Safety Kit

The tornado emergency kit and preparations made by Amy and Jake Burnett of Piedmont, Okla., may have saved their lives and the lives of their two children. In May 2011, Jake called Amy to alert her that a tornado was on the way, according to Redbook magazine. Amy took their two children to the safe room they'd built in their garage, while Jake rushed home from work. The storm hit, and their home, along with much of their block, was swept away in the torrent.

Because the Burnetts' tornado shelter was fully stocked and their safe room was prepared, they stayed safe in the storm. In case a tornado strikes, you should have the following items on hand. Store them in the area where you will take shelter in the event of a tornado or in a duffel bag or backpack so that they are easily mobile.

  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Battery-operated radio
  • First aid kit
  • Extra supply of prescription medications
  • Manual can opener
  • Emergency food and water
  • Emergency medicine
  • Well-built shoes, long-sleeved pants and shirts to wear for protection after the tornado

After you've put together your emergency kit, you'll next want to think about the best place for a safe room in your home. Ideally, you should pick a place that is below ground level. Remember that basements may flood during a heavy storm such as a tornado, so make sure water does not have a tendency to accumulate in your designated safe room. If you don't have a basement or cellar, select the most-interior room on the lowest level of your home. Your safe room should have strong walls that will sustain strong wind and accompanying debris. For more information on safe rooms, go to the FEMA Web site.