How to Make a Tornado Survival Kit

The chances of surviving a tornado are higher than most people think. With a nice kit ready, you will be more prepared.


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    Find a medium-sized container (preferably plastic to seal out moisture/bugs) that is able to hold at least two small blankets.
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    Purchase or find the following items:
    • A whistle
    • A permanent marker
    • A small radio, preferably a self-powered radio
    • A flashlight, preferably a self-powered flashlight
    • A medium sized pack of batteries
    • Canned food or power bars
    • A hand-powered can opener
    • A few small plastic dishes and silverware
    • Two small blankets
    • A phone
    • A few water bottles
    • A first aid kit (Band-Aids, cloth, ect.)
    • Money (preferably small bills)
    • A car charger for your cell phone
    • Medicines
    • A spare set of keys to your vehicle and home
    • An extra change on clothes for each person
    • Anything you may need for pets
    • Anything you may need for children
    • A multipurpose/knife.
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    Put all of the objects into the medium-sized container.
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    Put the container in the shelter/closet/safe room where you will be if there is a tornado warning.
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    Store bicycle helmets and sneakers in the shelter for each person.
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    Store your document safely in the (interior) shelter, along with a recent copy of one of your utility bills. If your neighborhood is wiped out, you'll need to prove to authorities that you live there.


  • Make sure that everyone takes or wears tennis shoes or boots. If you have to kick your way out or crawl through debris, it will be difficult barefoot.
  • Glowsticks in place of candles can be safer, since they are not a fire hazard.
  • Keep an eye on the weather, if it seems like there will be a severe storm, prepare.
  • If you are trapped under debris, use the whistle to signal for help.
  • If the sky looks a greenish or orangey color, get everything together and head to a place of shelter at ONCE. The greenish color often means hail, and the orangey color is a sign of dust being kicked up by strong winds in the storm. Note: On the Eastern plains of Colorado, if the clouds have a blue tinge, feel safe, but a brown tinge is a sign that a swirling effect is present (e.g. tornado) and dirt is getting sucked up into the clouds. The Eastern plains are farming country and high desert - brown dirt - so if your dirt from the ground has a hint in the clouds, watch out. Hail clues are a dense white apron from cloud to earth (often mistaken for a low hanging cloud) and a rapid drop in temperature.
  • If you have more than 4 people in your family then you might want to bring more blankets.
  • The reason that you purchase self-powered radios, self-powered flashlights and light sticks is that batteries will run down and you may not be able to find replacements locally. The lights and light sticks are for use instead of candles, since an open flame or spark often triggers an explosion and fire, complicating matters even worse. There is a TV out that is self powered as well. The radios allow you to listen to the news, and have entertainment as well. When the power cell dies you simply crank the radio according to manufacturer's instructions and/or place it in the sun if the device is also solar powered.
  • Know in advance how to turn off the water and gas to your house and keep the needed tools (wrench, etc.) in your emergency supply kit.
  • Write the name of each person on the skin with a permanent marker in case you are injured or unconscious.
  • Check the weather forecasts to find out if a high risk of severe weather is mentioned for your area. Your local National Weather Service office is responsible for issuing Hazardous Weather Outlooks (HWOs) for the local area around you. These are often the first mentions of severe weather risk, and often a couple days in advance. If severe weather is occurring locally, the NWS office assigned to your area will issue warnings for these storms. The Storm Prediction Center is responsible for issuing weather watches.
  • The latest models of these self-powered devices will also allow you to keep your cell phone charged. That way you can keep in contact with friends and family, unless the cell phone towers are damaged or destroyed.


  • Many towns and cities in high tornado risk areas have Outdoor Warning Sirens. Be familiar with what their signals mean, and know where to seek shelter and what to do when they sound.
  • Never wait until the last minute to prepare for a tornado.
  • Tornadoes are often deadly. Proper shelter will increase your chances of survival, and lessens the risk of serious injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Small container or a tub
  • Small radio, (preferably self powered)
  • Flashlight, (preferably self powered)
  • Medium sized pack of batteries
  • Glowsticks
  • Non-perishable food
  • Plastic bags
  • Manual can opener
  • A few small plastic dishes and silverware
  • Two small blankets
  • Pet food (if pets are present)
  • Enough water to last two weeks
  • Extra shoes and clothing
  • Things to do for the kids

Article Info

Categories: Storms | Survival Kits