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Catastrophe Response

Here’s Your Tornado Shelter Supplies Checklist

Installing a storm shelter provides effective protection against tornadoes, but don’t forget the importance of stocking it well! After all, an empty storm shelter may shield you from the wind, hail and flying debris characteristic of a tornado, but you need the right gear to weather the storm and its aftermath.

Here’s a look at the food and supplies you should permanently store in your tornado shelter so you’re ready when the next storm hits.

CLICK HERE for a downloadable Tornado Shelter Supplies Checklist. 

Food and Water

Your first focus should be on stocking ample food and water in your storm shelter. Strive to have at least five to seven days’ worth of food and water per person. Many people have a rotating food storage system; just relocate some of this food to your tornado shelter so you have access to emergency rations when you really need it.

Non-perishable food items appropriate for a storm shelter include:

  • Canned fruits and vegetables*
  • Canned soup and ravioli*
  • Canned chicken and fish*
  • Nuts and peanut butter
  • Crackers with a long shelf life
  • Granola bars
  • Beef jerky
  • Trail mix
  • Meals Ready to Eat, or MREs
  • Disposable eating utensils, plates and cups
  • Bottles, formula and baby food, if applicable
  • Pet food, if applicable

*If you store canned foods, don’t forget to keep a can opener in your tornado shelter!

The best way to store water for an emergency is to purchase one gallon of drinking water per person per day. Ideally, this means lining the walls of your tornado shelter with five to seven gallons of water per person. Rotate the gallons out every few months, since even water expires.


You don’t know how conditions will be when you exit the storm shelter, and you don’t know how long it will be before you can return to your home. To make sure you’re prepared, stock the shelter with these clothing items for each family member:

  • Extra change of clothing stored in a plastic bag
  • Warm clothes including hat, gloves and jacket
  • Heavy shoes or boots
  • Work gloves
  • Poncho
  • Bike helmet to protect from falling debris

First Aid Kit

It’s wise to keep a first aid kit handy for a variety of illnesses and injuries. Consider filling a small backpack with everything you might need. Then, if a tornado warning is issued, grab the backpack on your way to the storm shelter. Here’s what to include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Prescription medications for each family member
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Compress dressing
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Ace bandages
  • Instant cold compress
  • Non-latex gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer

Sanitation Supplies

With no knowledge of how long you’ll have to stay in your storm shelter, it’s wise to bring hygiene supplies along:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Portable tissue packs
  • Toilet paper
  • Trash bags
  • Diapers and wipes for babies, if applicable

Camping Gear and Tools

Not only is camping gear useful during a storm, but if your home is uninhabitable after the tornado passes, you’ll be grateful you have these items in your storm shelter:

  • Tent and tarp
  • Sleeping bags and blankets
  • Battery-operated lantern
  • Battery-operated weather radio
  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries for lantern, radio and flashlights
  • Cash
  • Cell phone charger
  • Duct tape
  • Whistle
  • Nylon rope
  • Swiss army knife
  • Hammer
  • Waterproof matches

Personal Documents

Keep important financial and personal documents in one place, such as an accordion folder. Then if you must evacuate, take the folder with you to the storm shelter. Here are the documents you should keep together in a safe place:

  • Home deed
  • Tax information
  • Insurance documents
  • Birth certificates
  • Medical papers
  • Banking information

With this comprehensive tornado storm shelter checklist, you’re ready to survive whatever Mother Nature throws at you and your family. For more tips to prepare for the next tornado warning, or to schedule cleanup services following a natural disaster, please contact Rainbow Restoration ®. We’re here to help restore your home and get your life back on track.

For Further Reading:

More Than the Funnel: Severe Weather Tornado Signs

Tornado Shelters: Where to Take Cover When a Tornado Strikes

Why So Many Tornados in Tornado Alley?

Most Common Tornado Damage

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