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Ten Things to Have in a Tornado Closet

By KG Farrell

Whether you believe in human contribution to climate change or if you believe climate change is a natural occurrence that would happen with or without humans, there’s little there’s little debate about the fact that it is changing. One thing that we can point to is the weather is becoming more extreme. Whether it’s earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis , mudslides, forest fires or volcanoes, the amount of damage being done is record-breaking nearly every year. Which means your chances of being the victim of a natural disaster are going up every single year.

Some people might call me a ‘prepper’ and I don’t disagree. I don’t consider myself an Armageddon prepper (although I don’t rule it out.) I prepare to help myself and my small neighborhood in the event of a catastrophic tornado. That’s because in my area, that’s the most likely disaster I will see. I took the advice of my favorite YouTube weatherman Ryan Hall Y’all. He says “Don’t be scared be prepared!” now that I have equipped my shelter (interior walk in closet) with following items, I do feel quite prepared and much less scared.

I am that type of someone who needs enormous amounts of input before I do anything. I want to go the source so to speak. I wanted to get up close and personal with tornado so I could decide for myself what I needed in my closet. But not wanting to die, I watched a bunch of tornado videos instead. I have found 10 things that I think everyone should have in their tornado closet.
First and foremost of course is water. If you have the space 3 gallons of water per person for 3 days. You should have enough water to drink if you are trapped under rubble and have enough water to clean wounds in the event that someone is injured by flying debris. Remember what comedian Ron White says, “It’s not that the wind blows but what the wind blows!”

Which brings me to the second thing you should have. A really good first-aid kit. I added a couple of additional things to mine. Feminine hygiene pads and enough Ace bandages to treat each person in my family. Pads are extremely effective at absorbing blood. If you’re in an area prone to flooding you might consider putting tampons in as well. They’re very absorbent and they expand to fit, be it a leaking pipe or a wound.

The third thing I keep in my closet is food that does not need to be prepared to be eaten. Since food expires, this needs to be replaced occasionally. I recommend putting in some of your favorite healthy snacks or protein shakes if you like them. Stick to things that your family normally eats so that they don’t shock their digestive system along with everything else.

I don’t see a lot of other people recommending this next one and it surprises me. I recommend earplugs. Especially if you have small children. It’s the noise of the tornado that often makes people panic. When people panic they do dumb things. So if you can prevent any level of panic amongst the people you are with, the safer everyone will be. You don’t want to have to chase a rogue toddler while your house is falling down around you.

Next, I’m going to recommend you put an old cell phone in your tornado closet. It doesn’t have to be connected to any service but it does need to be charged occasionally . Did you know that even if a cell phone doesn’t have a current service provider, you can still call 911? If you don’t have time to get to your cell phone or if it isn’t charged, having a backup to alert emergency services to your location is wise.

Number five on my list is a change of clothes. If you have a child in diapers, put an extra pack in there. Just remember to update when your children get bigger. Having pajamas and underclothes can help prevent further discomfort if you are trapped for awhile. Same can be true of items like pacifiers and stuffed animals. Books and board games work for older kids and adults. Occupied minds are calm minds.

You will also need trash bags. A cheap roll you can use for food waste and another for dirty clothes. They can also be used to line a lidded trash can (or large plastic cat litter container) that can be used to collect human waste. You can store everything you need in the can (don’t forget the toilet paper)until it becomes necessary to set it up.

Hand cranked or battery operated weather radios are available in a wide range of prices. You can find them in almost any sporting goods store or on shopping platforms online such as Amazon and Walmart. It’s important to check the weather before you emerge from your safe space. Especially with tornadoes. They don’t always come alone. You don’t want to leave safety to be hit with an unexpected storm right behind the first one. Remember, if a tornado hits your area, you can lose electricity and cell service for hours, even days depending on the scope of damage. Don’t assume government agencies or emergency services will be able to reach you immediately. Lines will be down, roads will be blocked, trees will have fallen and debris will be everywhere. They may be able to reach you but if they can’t be prepared to take care of yourself until they arrive.

Okay time for a weird one. I recommend getting a walker. Yes the kind grandmother used to use. I’ve seen more than one tornado video where an elderly person survived because they fell below their walker. They typically have a weight limit of 250 lbs. It’s something you can use to reinforce your hiding area without having to spend a lot of money. Walkers are relatively cheap brand new and even more so at a thrift store. It’s mobile so you can move it to any section of your closet that needs some reinforcement and you can lock the wheels so it’ll stay put.

Now the final thing is going to sound funny at first. I kind of chuckled when my friend Matt suggested I should include it on this list. But after further consideration I realized he was right for more reason than one. That item is condoms. If you’re going to be stuck, alone in the dark with no television or cell phone, you may want to be able to prevent pregnancy. After all, we have seen baby-booms come 9-months after natural disasters for that very reason. Condoms though can serve another purpose. If someone receives a bad burn or a intense scrape on one of their extremities you can use a condom to cover that wound and help keep it clean until help arrives. Despite what some men tell us (wink, wink ) condoms are very stretchy and could possibly fit over your foot if necessary. They will of course fit over fingers that might be burned from lighting candles or lanterns.

With severe weather season right around the corner I hope these are 10 things you will consider putting in your disaster closet and I hope none of you will ever need them. Although I’m afraid that over time you’re more and more likely to.

KG Farrell is an author, activist and artist living her best life in Northwest Missouri. She has previously published two suspense novels that you can find here here.

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