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Preparing for a Tornado: Being Prepared (Part 2)

Storing Important Documents

Store the following documents in a fire- and water-proof safe:

  • Birth certificates
  • Ownership certificates (autos, boats, etc.)
  • Social security cards
  • Insurance policies
  • Will
  • Household inventory
    • List of contents of household; include serial numbers, if applicable
    • Photographs or videotape of contents of every room
    • Photographs of items of high values, such as jewelry, paintings, collection items

First Aid Supplies

First Aid Kit
Drugs and Medications
  • Soap and clean water to disinfect wounds
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Individually wrapped alcohol swabs
  • Aspirin and non-aspirin tablets
  • Prescriptions and any long-term medications (keep these current)
  • Diarrhea medicine
  • Eye drops

NOTE: Important medical information and most prescriptions can be stored in the refrigerator, which provides excellent protection from fires.

  • Band-aids
  • Clean sheets torn into strips
  • Elastic bandages
  • Rolled gauze
  • Cotton-tipped swabs
  • Adhesive tape roll
Other First Aid Supplies
  • First aid book
  • Writing materials
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Bar soap
  • Tissues
  • Sunscreen
  • Paper cups
  • Plastic bags
  • Safety pins
  • Needle and thread
  • Instant cold packs for sprains
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Pocket knife
  • Splinting material

Reducing Household Hazards

Home Inspection Checklist

The following suggestions will reduce the risk for injury during or after a tornado. No amount of preparation will eliminate every risk.

Possible Hazards

Inspect your home for possible hazards, including the following:

  • Are walls securely bolted to the foundation?
  • Are wall studs attached to the roof rafters with metal hurricane clips, not nails?
  • Do you know where and how to shut off utilities at the main switches or valves?
Home Contents
  • Are chairs or beds near windows, mirrors, or large pictures?
  • Are heavy items stored on shelves more than 30 inches high?
  • Are there large, unsecured items that might topple over or fall?
  • Are poisons, solvents, or toxic materials stored safely?

Securing Your Home’s Structure

No home is completely safe in a tornado. However, attention to construction details can reduce damage and provide better protection for you and your family if a tornado should strike your house. If an inspection using the “Home Inspection Checklist” reveals a possible hazard in the way your home is constructed, contact your local city or county building inspectors for more information about structural safety. They may also offer suggestions on finding a qualified contractor to do any needed work for you.

Walls and Roof Rafters

Strengthen the areas of connection between the wall studs and roof rafters with hurricane clips.

Shutting Off Utilities


After a tornado, DO NOT USE matches, lighters, or appliances, or operate light switches until you are sure there are no gas leaks. Sparks from electrical switches could ignite gas and cause an explosion.

If you smell the odor of gas or if you notice a large consumption of gas being registered on the gas meter, shut off the gas immediately. First, find the main shut-off valve located on a pipe next to the gas meter. Use an adjustable wrench to turn the valve to the “off” position.


After a major disaster, shut off the electricity. Sparks from electrical switches could ignite leaking gas and cause an explosion.

  • Water may be turned off at either of two locations:
    1. At the main meter, which controls the water flow to the entire property.
    2. At the water main leading into the home. If you may need an emergency source of fresh water, it is better to shut off your water here, because it will conserve the water in your water heater.
  • Attach a valve wrench to the water line. (This tool can be purchased at most hardware stores.)
  • Label the water mains for quick identification.

Arranging and Securing Household Items

  • Arrange furniture so that chairs and beds are away from windows, mirrors, and picture frames.
  • Place heavy or large items on lower shelves.
  • Secure your large appliances, especially your water heater, with flexible cable, braided wire, or metal strapping.
  • Identify top-heavy, free-standing furniture, such as bookcases and china cabinets, that could topple over.
  • Secure your furniture by using one of two methods.
    1. “L” brackets, corner brackets, or aluminum molding, to attach tall or top-heavy furniture to the wall.
    2. Eyebolts, to secure items located a short distance from the wall.
  • Install sliding bolts or childproof latches on all cabinet doors.
  • Store all hazardous materials such as poisons and solvents–
    • in a sturdy, latched or locked cabinet
    • in a well-ventilated area
    • away from emergency food or water supplies
Infographic: Be Ready! Hurricanes Ready: Prepare. Plan. Stay Informed. Social Media at CDC Emergency