How to Be Prepared in Case of a Tornado

Tornado season is here, and for those of us in “Tornado Alley”, it’s a time to be prepared. The weather can go from hot, humid and unbearable to having to run for cover in a matter of minutes. You may follow the weather/news and see things like “tornado watch” or “tornado warning”.

What does that mean? A “watch” means that the weather conditions are favorable for a tornado to form, and to prepare to take shelter, if necessary. A “WARNING” means that a tornado has been spotted in your area, and that you should take shelter immediately.

tornado watch warning

Usually, once a tornado, or funnel cloud has been sighted, the tornado siren will start blaring.

Once the sirens go off, you have no time to think or to grab supplies. You need to be ready before the supercells form. Here’s what you need to stock in your shelter for tornado season…


Stock food and water

This usually consists of having filtered water in glass jars, about a 2 gallons per person, and some granola bars, nuts, and dried fruits. Have this in your shelter in a covered box such as a rubbermaid container, and plan on rotating it out on a regular basis. You never really know how long you are going to have to be in your shelter, and having a snack or two can take your mind off what is going on outside.

Extra set of clothing

This is just a simple change of clothes, with a t-shirt, pants, underwear for each member of the family. You will be glad to never use these, but if a tornado does take out your house, having something else to change into is comforting. Tornadoes occur more often later at night, when everyone is in pajamas. Having a set of clothes ready in case a tornado touchdown occurs in your area can be a lifesaver.

Radio and batteries

With social media like facebook and twitter updates, this often gets lost on people’s list. But you can still follow most radio stations for weather updates. When a tornado hits, many will not be able to access the internet during the storm. Alternatively, you can listen to music to help pass time as well.

Shoes by the basement door

Have an extra a pair of shoes for each member of the family by the basement door, ready to go. They can be cheap flip flops or crocs , but the point is that the shoes are easy to slip on at a moment’s notice. Some may argue that if the house is gone, having a good pair of shoes is better, but getting to our basement is first priority.

Our basement is a “Michigan basement” which is nothing more than a slightly cemented over hole in the ground. Most of the house isn’t even over this, and it’s more of a dungeon than anything else. Shoes are a MUST down there!

Extra dog leash by the basement door

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Our dog is terrified of the storms, and when the sirens are going off, she gets so nervous that she refuses to go down the stairs without being led. When the first siren goes off, we put on shoes, leash her, and get her down as quickly as possible. Some dogs get nervous with the loud tornado sirens, but this thundershirt may help some. 

Extra litter box in the basement

Our cats refuse to follow us down to the basement, but if we can, we also grab them. Having an extra litter box, along with pet food and water dishes, can make it more comforting for the pets during the storm.

These are just a few things we stock for a quick stay in the basement. When the tornado sirens go off, will you be ready?

What if a tornado hit, and took out your entire house? The few gallons of water and some dried fruit wouldn’t be enough to sustain you for long, and the rest of your “preps” are gone. Read here to find out what to do if that happens.

tornado pin

17 thoughts on “How to Be Prepared in Case of a Tornado”

  1. Valerie - Motherhood in Progress

    You have a couple of extra items on this list that are really well thought out. (e.g. shoes by the door and the dog leash)
    Hope this helps many!

  2. Jacqueline Delacruz

    I live in Florida where hurricanes are more common than tornadoes, yet it never beats to be prepare for anything.. Thanks for sharing.. Bookmarking!

  3. This is such a great list. I never would have thought of things like a change of clothes or shoes. Everyone thinks of water and food, but none of the other little things I think. Here’s to hoping you don’t have to spend much time in the basement this tornado season!

  4. Gosh, I would have never thought about the dog leash. How scary to think about tornadoes, but so true!

  5. Being prepared is a great way to help yourself be more calm. Practice drills for the kids helps too. These are great tips.

  6. Awesome, tips although we don’t have a dog we do have a bird, gecko and fish! But these are great tips because you never know when Mother Nature is going to strike.

  7. Luckily the only type of tornado we have where I live is a dust devil but these are great tips for those who live in tornado areas!

  8. These are great tips for any kind of emergency. Our family has been working on putting together 72 hour kits. We have ten kids, so that’s a lot of water!

  9. I live in boring Ontario, Canada, and this isn’t something we always have to think about. This post, however, comes at a great time and has some really excellent points!

  10. Awesome tips and honestly no matter where you are located, you should be prepared in case of a natural disaster. I know that Iowa has seen a fair share or tornadoes in the last year and it is always a thought in the back of my mind when the weather announcements come via text.

  11. Maria @The Good Life

    I am definitely sharing this! I just moved from NC to Kansas and tornadoes scare me to death especially after a freak one came through our town in NC a few years ago and missed my parents house by 2 streets. Yeap…close call. Now here in Kansas I have a basement (thank God) but have an emergency “kit” that includes some of these items. Thanks for the list.

  12. Serena like leaving important papers or a flash drive with important pictures a nd medical records would be a good idea. Also, pictures of your family and pets. Also phone numbers for ins u

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