Tornado (or other disaster) Prep

I’m a big believer in the idea that families should be prepared for whatever emergencies might come their way. In Iowa, that means tornadoes and floods. With a storm that went through central Iowa on Sunday came a spate of posts on Facebook: “wow, I’m so unprepared for tornadoes!”

So, in the event this is useful, here’s what our family has done to get ready for tornadoes or any other small-scale local disaster:.


Emergency Kit. Our Emergency Kit sits in a large Rubbermaid under the stairs. Under the stairs is the sturdiest part of our house, also the creepiest.

  • Bleach, 1 gallon
  • Candles
  • Hammer
  • Wrench
  • Utility Knife
  • Rope
  • Scissors
  • Nails
  • Saw
  • Bucket
  • Matches, 1 large box
  • Duct Tape
  • Lighters
  • D Batteries that expire 12/16
  • AA Batteries that expire 12/16
  • 2 thick dropcloths
  • Garbage bags
  • Flashlights
  • Corded phone
  • 3 toothbrushes (evidently, I think we can share in a disaster? I wonder if I have forgotten to update the toothbrush quantity with additional kids? Or maybe I added more toothbrushes but didn’t update the inventory sheet.)
  • Rubber Gloves
  • WOrk Gloves
  • Water Treatment Tablets
  • Toilet Paper
  • Soap
  • Purell
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sewing Kit
  • Notebook
  • Phone Numbers
  • Documents (this is photocopies of important documents we might need, in addition to photocopies of pictures of all family members)
  • Pens and Markers
  • Food (Peanut Butter, Crackers, Ramen, 2 MREs per family member for 3 days, some canned meals, and a few freeze dried family-size meals)
  • Our camping stove and fuel
  • Basic OTC Meds
  • Change of clothes for all family members
  • Bug Spray
  • Paper Towels, disposable plates and tableware
  • Laundry Soap
  • Antibacterial cleaner
  • Plastic Tablecloth
  • Emergency Teddy Supplies (feeding tube extras, etc.)
  • 2 lengths of fabric (to use as baby carriers or whatever else)
  • Flashlights and head lamps.


On the way to the basement, we pass our shoes, and everyone grabs a pair. If I can, I grab Teddy’s Prograf and syringe.


PLEASE NOTE that we don’t rely on getting ANYTHING other than ourselves to the basement. The only thing we really need to grab on the way down is shoes, which are literally stored on the stairs, and if it were really an emergency, we’d forgo those.


Then we have our “it’s not an emergency, we’re heading to the basement as a precaution list”:

Teddy’s Meds, all of them. This extends the amount of time we have before his health becomes a bigger emergency.
Teddy’s food, as much as I have prepared, as well as the syringe and tube for feeding him.

Electronic devices (for boredom, as well as because they’re expensive and I’d rather not be without them if our house gets smashed to bits), and children grab whatever they want to do in the basement, but the basement also has toys in it.

Our 72 hour kits and our guns/ammo. (No judging – not only are these expensive items that I’d rather not have to replace, I’m also not going to rely on this being Iowa and a friendly neighborhood in the event the area gets seriously plowed by a tornado.) Also my Machete, which could be handy during tornado aftermath.

More flashlights.

I don’t plan to grab pictures. Most pictures that are priceless to me have been scanned and are safely stored on a cloud drive, so I feel like I’m good there.


So that’s it.

I go through our box and our 72 hour kits twice a year, usually at the time change. I make sure the clothes are still of appropriate sizes (I only store winter clothes in any of our kits, figuring that I also have cutting utensils in there and if it’s too hot, we can cut arms and legs off the clothes). I rotate out the food to keep it fresh. I check battery expiration dates, and turn on all the flashlights. Check drug expiration dates in the first aid kit. Make sure the tape and bandaids are still sticky and not old and gross. It takes maybe an hour to update and double check the box and all five 72 hour kits.


Author: sarahtar

Hi, I am Sarah, owner of Wallypop ( and Boulevard Designs ( I homeschool, work from home, and, along with my husband, raise 3 kids, one of whom has special and medical needs. Turn ons are people who are polite, honesty, and really good root beer. Turn offs are mean people and people who make my life more difficult.

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