There are certain essentials that every homeowner should have on hand in case of emergencies or natural disasters like a tornado or an earthquake. Regardless of where you live or what struggle you may face, consider making an emergency kit with these items: first aid supplies, food, water, important documents, medicine, medical supplies, batteries, matches, and candles, and if you can swing it, a self or solar powered radio.
Be it an earthquake, a flood, or fire, a kit like that one will help you be able to pick up and leave your home quickly if staying inside is too dangerous.
How Are Tornadoes Different from Other Natural Disasters?
A tornado is a different kind of disaster. In instances of fires or flooding, the best way to keep your family safe is to escape to the outside away from the flames, the water, or the debris. Tornadoes can devastate homes just as thoroughly as earthquakes and differ from the other perils in that they drive you inside the home. Being outside during a tornado is not a good idea, but being inside can be just as dangerous.
Tornadoes are notorious for leaving victims trapped under debris, in trees, or in cars. They tear up gas lines, flatten homes, and flip over vehicles.
Tornadoes often happen later in the day, leaving victims in the dark and without shelter for hours before help can arrive. Having essentials can make the minutes and hours after a tornado bearable. Emergency crews can't always get into a devastated area quickly, so if you live in an area that is susceptible to tornadoes, consider beefing up your generic emergency kit with these items that can specifically aid you in the aftermath of a tornado.
These are items that will allow you to avoid bouts of hunger or thirst: non-perishable food, such as MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat); non-electric can opener; and water.
Even things like medications and money in the form of cash and credit cards fall in this category, as they are the small things we use or consume every single day. Any essential items you take for granted need to be with you when tragedy hits.
TIP: Assume that each person will consume 1 gallon of water per day, and stock up for at least three full days.
All of these things will help you keep a roof over your head and keep you and your loved ones warm: tents or tarps, rain gear, space blankets, sleeping bags, jackets, and sturdy shoes or boots.
Tools and Technology
Tornadoes can knock out power for days at a time. Keeping these items handy will allow you to maintain some electrical tools and hopefully stay connected with the outside world. This could be as simple as updating distant relatives that you are safe, or calling for emergency services in a dire moment. They include flashlights, cell phones and chargers, batteries, and a radio.
These items may seem unwieldly, but they are useful for clearing debris or safely clearing downed power lines while reducing the risk of electrocution. Not all of these items will actually fit in a traditional emergency kit or “bag” but you should still try to have access to the following: chainsaw and fuel, shovels, pry bars, and wooden poles (for electrical wires), rope, signal flares, and air horns or whistles.
Larger items such as a chainsaw, shovels, and other tools can be stored in a foot locker in a basement or storm shelter. Storing your generator in the basement or shelter will also protect it from being damaged when the tornado touches down.
Other items can be put in backpacks or duffel bags that are easy to carry.
TIP: Limit the weight of your bag to 20 or 30 pounds, something anyone in the family can carry.