Did you know the U.S. has an average of more than 1,000 tornadoes recorded each year?
There are two regions with an excessively high frequency of tornadoes. Florida is one and “Tornado Alley” in the south-central United States is the other, according to NOAA.
If you’re in the part of the country that’s prone to tornadoes, you need to have a safe room to go to when the weather turns bad.
Your safe spot will shield you from the wind, hail and flying debris. A safe location should have no windows and could be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor of your apartment building. An interior closet or bathroom in your apartment is also a safe place to hunker down in.
Items to keep in your tornado safe space
When you have to go to your safe space, you never know how long you’ll be there. It could be 30 minutes and it could be for several hours. You need to be prepared, not only with essentials but also with things to keep you and your family distracted and calm. We’ve organized a list to help get you through the storm with useful items for your safe space.
1. Water and snacks
Water and munchies are a must for everyone in your safe space. Plan ahead with water bottles and non-perishables. Keep foodstuffs organized.
Have a bag you can grab to take with you to a storm shelter or your safe space in your apartment.
2. Baby and toddler food
Have a baby in the family? Be sure to have formula, bottles and baby food with utensils ready for your tornado safe space. Or, pack it to take to a shelter.
If you’ve got a toddler, have Cheerios and other favorites in resealable plastic bags for easy accessibility.
3. NOAA radio
You should get a weather radio so you can listen to NOAA Weather Radio. It will keep you tuned in to emergency info about tornado watches and warnings.
You don’t know what the conditions will be like during the weather event and post-storm climate. FEMA recommends wearing closed-toe shoes like boots or sturdy sneakers. A likelihood of broken glass and other rubble that could prove dangerous.
5. Protective gear
In case of the tornado hitting full out in your area, be ready for anything. Keep bike helmets to protect from falling debris with you. Have a helmet for everyone in the family.
And if you have room and the time to drag it, bring a mattress with you. It could protect the entire family in case of flying glass, doors or other debris.
6. First aid kit
Prepare a small backpack with Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes and more, or buy a first aid kit that’s already full of necessities.
If a tornado warning occurs, you can grab the backpack on your way to a storm shelter, or stash one in your apartment’s safe space.
7. Sanitation and hygiene supplies
How long will you be in your tornado safe spot? Only Mother Nature knows for sure. Since it’s always better to be ready ahead of time, have a few personal hygiene supplies on hand. Think disposable towels, hand sanitizers, portable tissue packs, toilet paper and trash bags.
8. Necessities for kids
Be sure to pack a safe space or shelter bag with necessities, such as diapers and wipes for babies. Also, have a go-bag with anything special your toddler needs. Include favorite washcloths that could prove useful.
Power losses are likely when high winds blow. Be sure to have a battery-operated lantern and other flashlights. Also, plan ahead with extra batteries.
10. Cell phone chargers
Don’t risk your cell phone going to black. You may not have power, so be prepared with a portable universal battery cell phone charger. Find one with USB ports for several phones.
11. Personal docs
It’s always smart to keep important documents in one place. In a storm situation, keep them in a waterproof bag. Safeguard your passport, insurance papers and your checkbook.
12. Activities for kids
If you have little kids, be sure to have supplies to keep them busy while you wait out the wind. It will be a good distraction.
Charge iPads charged, bring crayons and coloring books, a board game and favorite stuffed animals for nap time. Have pillows and blankets, too.
13. Adult distractions
Adults need their own versions of safe space distractions. Have your iPad mini and access to the novel you’re reading (or listening to). Bring your crossword puzzle book and the like.
Have pillows and a blanket in your safe space, too. These things could help make the waiting period for the storm to pass more bearable.
14. Dog or cat accessories
Does your dog or cat get traumatized in thunder, wind and rain? Have a thunder vest or shirt that they can wear. It can squash anxiety through gentle, constant pressure.
Create a spot where cats will feel safe to hide under a blanket. Also have water, food, treats and toys for your pets.
15. Meds and eyeglasses
Remember to keep your medications and eyeglasses (and contact lenses) with you in a storm. Keep headache pills and other medications you take in your safe space, or in the shelter bag you’ve packed. Include daily prescriptions, insulin, epinephrine auto-injectors and anything else you may need, along with contact lens solution and eye drops.
After the storm
According to the Weather Channel, it’s critical to be sure that a storm has truly passed before going outside. Check for updates on your NOAA Weather Radio, local broadcasts or cell phone. These outlets will be able to provide the latest weather information related to the storm where you live.