Whether your tornado safe spot is a basement, a bunker, or a bathroom, this is a list of stuff you absolutely must have in your shelter in case the unthinkable happens and a tornado hits. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it's a good starting point to help you prepare for the worst.

  • A flashlight is essential for obvious reasons.
  • Charge your cell phone in advance of severe weather and keep it in your pocket when you're in your safe room. Don't forget to carry your charger with you.
  • A radio will help you keep track of what's going on with the weather in case the power/cable goes out and you can't safely check television or internet sources.
  • Closed-toe shoes like sneakers or boots are a must on a day that you're under the gun for severe weather. Wearing solid shoes will protect your feet from injury if you have to walk on debris — even if it's just tree branches.
  • Work gloves will help in case you need to handle debris.
  • Wearing a bicycle or motorcycle helmet will help protect your head from flying debris. Head injuries are the #1 cause of death in tornadoes, and wearing a motorcycle helmet during a tornado is proven to have saved at least one life in the infamous April 27, 2011 outbreak.
  • A first aid kit, also for obvious reasons.
  • A whistle in case you need to signal for help.
  • Bring along your prescription medication in a zip-lock bag.

Remember that the ideal place to take shelter from a tornado is underground, either in a storm shelter or the lowest point of your basement. If you don't have access to an underground room, take cover in the most interior closet or bathroom of your home or office, putting as many walls between you and the outside as possible.

If you live in a mobile home, try like hell not to be home on days with tornadoes in the forecast. If you find yourself in a position that a tornado may threaten your mobile home, please leave and go somewhere safe. Mobile homes are not built to withstand strong winds.

As always, keep up-to-date on severe weather by regularly checking in with the Storm Prediction Center and your local NWS office.

[Image: An interior bathroom is the only room that survived when this house was hit by an F2 tornado on November 17, 2003 | Image source: NWS Lake Charles, LA]