Most people don’t like to think about their homes being targeted by severe weather, but the reality is that tornadoes are a threat to property and life. That’s why it pays to be prepared ahead of time and assemble a few items that will help safeguard your home and its occupants. Below are six essentials to have on standby in case a tornado comes your way.
1. Batteries or Other Alternative Power Sources
When a tornado strikes, one of the first things to go is a home’s electrical power. In addition, power is often one of the last things to be restored, so you will need to prepare for an extended period without electricity.
That means you should include batteries and other alternative power sources in your tornado emergency supply kit. Always keep extra batteries that supply your flashlight, radios and other electronic devices that will be used during extended outages.
Do not store batteries inside electrical devices, as they can easily leak and damage devices. Instead, keep fresh batteries in sealed containers in cool, dry areas. Water and heat can ruin batteries, so protecting them is important. In addition, periodically inspect your battery inventory to ensure that expiration dates haven’t passed; replace any batteries that have expired with new ones.
In addition to batteries, you may wish to invest in a small solar panel that can be used to charge cellular phones and other small electronic devices. If you opt for a solar panel, be sure it includes all necessary components, such as charge controllers and storage batteries, so that it will be ready to use at a moment’s notice.
2. AM/FM Radio
Another essential item to have on-hand during an emergency is an AM/FM radio. If possible, purchase a radio with weather band capability so that you can obtain official information from the National Weather Service.
Keep extra batteries for your radio in the battery stockpile to ensure you don’t run out of power. In addition, radios can be purchased with manual hand crank chargers, and these are invaluable during times of extended outages and if your battery supply is exhausted.
Flashlights are another “must-have” for tornado emergencies. The good news is that today’s flashlights are better than ever when it comes to light output and battery life, thanks to LED technology.
That’s why you should replace existing incandescent bulb flashlights with LED-equipped devices, since older units will use up batteries fast and become dim as batteries weaken. When buying flashlights, try to assemble a variety of types.
For example, it is helpful to have head-mounted lamps that allow you see while maintaining use of both hands. In addition, consider obtaining a flashlight or two with lantern bases. These are useful for situations where longer-term use is necessary.
4. Drinking Water
Another critical item to keep on hand in preparation for a tornado is drinking water. Municipal supplies are often interrupted or contaminated during a tornado event, and you will need safe potable water during this time.
Store in secure, non-reactive containers such as plastic barrels or sealed jugs. Make sure that these containers are kept clean and sealed to prevent contamination. In addition, if you use large, stationary barrels, be sure that you have a hand-operated barrel pump that can be fitted to the opening to allow easy water access.
5. Medical Trauma Kit
Injuries sustained during a tornado can sometimes be severe, so you should keep a medical trauma kit on hand to be prepared for treating hurt individuals. Such kits go beyond the scope of conventional first aid kits, so if needed, add a few essentials to be sure you are ready.
For example, you should have large wound dressings available in your kit. These can effectively stop severe bleeding and protect significant wounds. In addition, be sure to add sterile saline to your kit; this is useful for washing wounds and preventing infection. Other helpful items include commercially available tourniquets, splinting materials for stabilizing fractured limbs, and heat-reflective emergency blankets.
6. Emergency Food Rations
The last essential that should be in every household are emergency food rations. Many people assume they will eat dry foods and canned goods they already have in their homes, but that isn’t usually sufficient in a tornado situation.
For example, inadequately packaged dry goods can often be ruined during a tornado due to water intrusion or other damage incurred. Canned goods often require some type of heating or may not be complete sources of nutrition. That’s why you should focus on stockpiling complete food items that are resistant to damage and are already completely cooked.
As an example, canned meats such as tuna, sardines, luncheon loaf and small sausages are easy to store and eat. However, do not forget to keep a can opener in close proximity to your food.
Also, peanut butter is a highly nutritious food that provides maximum energy and is shelf stable. If you opt to keep packaged dry foods on hand, be sure they are packed inside resealable plastic bags and kept in crush-proof containers.