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Tornado Warning Prep: Must-Haves for a Hunker-Down Haven

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If you live in an area where you receive tornado warnings on a regular and you need to go and hunker down in your basement or a central room in your home while waiting for the storm to pass you may want to stock up on a few items to make your wait more comfortable and safe.

Here are just a few of the items that our family has discovered can be useful during these tornado warnings, which can sometimes last up to a couple of hours, keeping us more calm and comfortable.


I think the most obvious thing to have on hand is water, an important item to sustain life. Think about at least having enough to drink during your time in the basement or, better yet, even more than that in order to sustain your family through any resulting utility outages. I find that individual-sized bottles are just more convenient but I also like to keep a few large jugs for "extra" water.


The first time I started packing food in our tornado kit I was all about survival, grabbing high-protein foods like canned sausages and protein bars. Well, when it came time to actually hide out in the basement during tornado warnings these just didn't seem very appetizing. Even in a semi-emergency situation, you still want to enjoy what you're eating, right?

This time around, I've stocked up on some more enjoyable foods to have on hand for tornado warnings. And, in a way, having these fun treats to look forward can kind of make this situation a little more [happy]. Now, in addition to high-protein meals, we've stocked up on items like:

  • snack-size Crispers, Veggie Sticks, Bits & Bites (Dollar Tree)

  • our favourite chocolate bars

  • pop tarts

  • Powerade

  • various bags of mixed nuts, trail mix, dried fruit

Meal Time:

When it came time to actually have a meal while hunkering down, cooking became a challenge without being able to go upstairs to the kitchen. We have now included the following in our tornado kit, a handy way to heat up a little dinner, as these warnings do tend to happen during evening hours:


Logistically speaking, another challenge we've run into is having to go to the washroom during these tornado warnings. We've solved this by acquiring the following, just in case:

  • small, portable camping toilet

  • garbage bags

  • toilet paper

  • hand sanitizer

  • wipes

All of these items are kept inside of the camping toilet to save space in our kit.

You may also like to have ...

  • diapers

  • feminine hygiene products


It can be worrisome enough to have to hide out during tornado warnings, so it's good to have some entertainment on hand to keep your family occupied. Reserving some of these things for tornado warnings only may make these activities even a little more exciting.

You may also like to have ...

  • colouring/activity books

  • video games

  • notebook and pen

  • paper and markers


Of course, following updates on the storm is highly important, at minimum, to know when it is finally safe to come back upstairs. We have the following on hand for this purpose:

You may also like to have ...

  • phone chargers

  • extra power packs


In addition to comfortability, we've also stocked up on a few other items which may come in handy if things get more serious.

  • candles

  • matches (kept in a plastic, Ziploc bag)

  • lighter

  • lantern

  • fold-up mattress (for protecting our heads)

  • rope

  • scissors

  • whistle

  • first-aid kit

You may also like to have ...

  • helmets

  • work gloves

  • tools

  • multi-purpose knife



You'll also want to consider your family pets. If the warning isn't overly urgent, of course, you'll want to bring them with you, so they'll need a few things too.

  • small amounts of pet food

  • pet dishes (you can use the paper bowls for them too)

  • toileting needs (kitty litter& small tray / puppy pads)

  • leash/cage/crate

Where and How to Acquire these Items:

You may not want to invest a lot of money into these items which are only being used minimally during these rare tornado warning scenarios. A great place to find some of them are ...

  • thrift shops

  • yard sales

  • dollar store (Dollar Tree has an "emergency supplies" section)

  • big-box store

  • hardware store

  • camping/hunting store

The end of the summer season may be a good time to get some camping gear on sale which can be utilized for this purpose.

Also, think of things which you may already keep in the house which can serve double duty by being utilized for other activities and during tornado warnings. Keep them in your basement, if possible:

Look in your recycle bin. For example, you could re-use a used, washed tin cooking tray or storage tote with a cracked lid for a temporary kitty litter tray.

Shelf Life:

Once a year or so, use up some of the items in your kit which may expire and replace with new, fresher items.

More Resources:

If your town or city has regular tornado warnings, your local government will likely have a list you can acquire to find out all of the items which you should keep on hand for emergency preparedness in more detail. Otherwise, there are many resources online, including blog articles and YouTube videos.

You may even want to check out the show that takes emergency preparedness to the next level: Doomsday Preppers.

We hope that by sharing these methods we use to try and make our family more comfortable during tornado warnings it will both help and inspire you to build or expand an emergency kit that is suitable for your family, to keep everyone more calm and comfortable during these emergency scenarios.

For more Bright and Breezy tips and inspiration, check out our other blog posts or subscribe for immediate updates.

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