Preparing For The Storm – Maintaining The Storm Shelter

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

TORNADO SEASON is right around the corner so I’m preparing our storm shelter for potential late-night runs to safety. See my preparations.

Our underground storm shelter helps keep us safe from powerful storms and tornadoes. #TexasHomesteader

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NE Texas Underground Storm Tornado Shelter

I have a healthy respect/fear for tornadic storms! RancherMan arranged to have an underground storm shelter installed for me so I can feel safe when those winds start blowing. How much do I love him for that!!?

I’ve written about the installation of our Storm Shelter. So if you’re thinking of having an underground shelter installed be sure to check that post out to see some of the considerations we made.

Underground storm shelter protects against tornados and dangerous storms. #TexasHomesteader

I also published another post about what we decided to Stock In Our Storm Shelter.

If you already have a storm shelter this post shares what we decided to store down there. (and things we decided NOT to store).

But now that the shelter’s been installed & stocked, what kind of upkeep does it need?

C’mon & I’ll show you what I’m doing now to prepare for those spring storms!

Scary Childhood Memories Of Storm Shelters

I have vivid childhood memories of rushing down into a storm shelter in the middle of the night. The shelter was dark and the musty smell & presence of all those spider webs really gave me the heebie-jeebies!

When RancherMan had our storm shelter installed I decided that perhaps it would bring me comfort when rushing underground during those storms to be assured that there were no critters in the corners waiting to pounce me.

Storm Shelter Yearly Maintenance Checklist. Come see how I prepare for dangerous storms. #TexasHomesteader

Annual Maintenance For My Storm Shelter

 Each year at the end of winter I take care of a little annual maintenance of our underground storm shelter. One hugely important maintenance task for my underground storm shelter is making sure there are no spiders and such down there!

Sweep away cobwebs, leaves, insects, etc.

Wipe down containers with wet rag.

Refresh bottled water.

Replace battery in portable fan.

TORNADO SEASON is right around the corner so I'm preparing our storm shelter for those late-night runs to safety. See my preparations. #TexasHomesteader

So recently I took advantage of some unseasonably warm late-winter weather and headed to the shelter. I was armed with a broom, dustpan and a damp soapy rag.

Sweeping Out The Underground Storm Shelter

The leaves that blow through the door each time it’s opened have accumulated beneath the stairs. So I started there.

I swept the steps and also underneath the stairs to remove the leaves and dirt.

And although our vents are covered with screen I was dismayed to see spider webs. There were even a couple of dead spiders.

They have to go!

Although it probably wasn’t necessary, I swept the walls, the ceiling & inside of those air vents too.

It didn’t initially look like there was too much grime down there. But I was surprised to see a healthy little stack of crap when I was through sweeping!

Cleaning the storm shelter. TORNADO SEASON is right around the corner so I'm preparing our storm shelter for those late-night runs to safety. See my preparations. #TexasHomesteader

Once everything was swept I took my soapy rag and wiped down the container that holds our supplies.

But  then again, I’m pretty particular about what I do (and DON’T!) store in my underground shelter.

Can You Store Canned Food In An Underground Shelter?

It’s said the cooler & moderated temperatures inside an underground storm shelter make it an ideal place to store home-canned goods and such. This is a common practice around our area.

But I don’t plan to store pantry items like home-canned goods and such in our shelter. I want the floor of our shelter to be as wide open and non-cluttered as possible so it can be used comfortably for its intended purpose.

I also won’t store large amounts of supplies for what I anticipate to be a very short stint at any given time in our storm shelter below. No cases of bottled water or 5-year supply of dehydrated food.

I figure in all probability we’ll seek shelter for about 30-45 minutes at a time before the storm passes and then emerge from it. So I don’t see the need to store cases of bottled water or snacks for such short stints. So I don’t.

I mean, it’s not like we’re gonna run for our lives to the safety of the storm shelter, get below and hunkered down and think to ourselves: “Boy, am I hungry!”. LOL.

So only the bare necessities will stored in our storm shelter. And even those few necessities need to be neatly tucked away. I want mainly wide open floor space when we go down there.

What Supplies Do You Need In Underground Storm Shelter?

How do you know what kind of supplies to store in an underground tornado shelter? According to there can be a long list of things to store in your tornado shelter including:

      • Bottled Water
      • High-Protein Snacks
      • Non-Perishable Food
      • Canned Food & Manual Can Opener
      • Flashlight With Extra Batteries
      • Playing Cards or Puzzle Books & pencil
      • Cash
      • Battery-Powered Radio

…and more!

But these are just suggestions. I’ve based my storm shelter supply list on our typical expectations of use.

Supplies I Store In My Underground Shelter

The supplies stored in my own storm shelter are very straightforward. Since I’m only planning for short stints in my storm shelter here’s what I’ve stored down there:

Large lidded container to hold supplies.

5-Gallon bucket for additional seating/storage.

A couple of bottled waters – changed out each spring with fresh ones.

*Battery-Powered Fan. Things can get a little stuffy with the humidity of NE Texas.

A container of *Damp-Rid for humidity & musty smells in the shelter. 

Sidewalk chalk in case children join us to divert their attention to less scary things.

*hand-crank flashlight (no batteries needed)  That way we won’t have to worry about batteries to run the flashlight if it’s needed.

Plastic coffee can holding a roll of toilet paper ‘just in case’.

A large beach towel in case we’re wet & cold by the time we get into the shelter.

Whatever you decide to store in your own storm shelter, the items should fit your own comfort level and expectations.

How I Store Supplies In My Underground Tornado Shelter

I decided that all of our supplies should be stored inside this huge *Igloo 100-Qt cooler. That way I could rest assured that no creepy crawlers might be hiding in any of our supplies. 

Storm shelter supplies. TORNADO SEASON is right around the corner so I'm preparing our storm shelter for those late-night runs to safety. See my preparations. #TexasHomesteader

Plus I want the floor of the shelter to remain as open & clear as possible! And of course the cooler itself serves a double purpose since it can serve as additional seating.

So there ya go – the shelter has been swept and tidied and supplies have been refreshed.

If we do need to rush down there to safely escape a storm in the middle of the night I’ll feel comfortable knowing there are no unexpected surprises.

And most importantly – no creepy-crawlies!


Other Preparedness Posts

Electrical Power

Collecting Water

Food & Cooking

Underground Storm Shelter


Our Weather-Related Preparedness Posts


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Emergency Supplies Kit by Weather.Gov




10 thoughts on “Preparing For The Storm – Maintaining The Storm Shelter

  1. Marie

    This is a super important reminder! Luckily in our area of the midwest we don’t get many tornadoes but that can lull us into a false sense of security. So much better to be prepared. Thanks!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I agree Marie. That’s why I schedule the first warm non-windy day to go down into the shelter & do a little maintenance. It only takes a few minutes but the peace of mind is priceless for me. ~TxH~

  2. Shirley Taylor

    We have a basement that’s our shelter.
    It’s damp and full of spiders!!!!
    I need to go down and do all the STUFF!
    I leave all our supplies in a basket there in our laundry room,where the big door to the basement is.
    When I was growing up here in Oklahoma, we had a cellar that scared the poop out of me!
    It was always wet and musty and steep wooden stairs led into it!
    I get shivers thinking about it!
    With our very mild winter and Spring looks to have sprung in mid February, I worry about a booger of a season!
    Hope it’s not so..I hate tornadoes!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      OMGosh Shirley – YES, I have the same recollections as a child in my grandmother’s storm shelter. S-s-s-s-shiver….. But our shelter is clean as a whistle now and I’m going to try the mint/cotton ball thing too – I’ll be sure to share how it works for us. ~TxH~

  3. Cheryl @ Pasture Deficit Disorder

    Getting a storm shelter is on our list for sure. These are great ideas for stocking the basic necessities. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Margy

    I grew up in earthquake country. We didn’t build underground shelters, but we did put together supplies in case our home was damaged or destroyed. I had car backpacks and supplies in case I was caught on the road, and our school (I was the principal) had a storage bin on the playground with water, supplies and food. I went through two strong quakes, but fortunately neither my school nor home were damaged. At the cabin we get strong winds during the winter. I worry about the roof, so I hunker down in the lowest room away from the direction of the wind. I figure if it works for earthquakes, but must be good for wind. – Margy

  5. Patti

    Tammy we have a shelter and I use peppermint oil on cotton balls to keep the spiders at bay. It also helps with mice which we had only once and only one. It also helps to keep it smelling nice. You could certainly add to the damp rid. I hope you have no storms this year. We’re predicted to have a very active season and I’d rather have a snow storm than a tornado, I’ve been in 2 with one taking our home.

  6. Sue

    I have bucket with tight lid incase someone needs to throw up. the bucket can be also used as a potty. I have a tote with water, toilet paper, paper towels, and a few snacks( I take these down on the day they are giving storm warning.

  7. ColleenB.~Texas

    Getting all prepared, and lets hope you won’t need to use your shelter but nice to have in just in case.
    Living in a mobile home; I absolutely dread severe storms. Living in Iowa we had basements but here in Texas, no such thing. :{
    You might consider adding some handy wipes and small first-aide kit to your supplies along with items for your dog; of which you have already thought of I’m sure, and keep them rain coats handy.
    Just in case; always nice to have extra set of clothing as well.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Good point about a few supplies for Bailey, Colleen. I don’t want to stock much down there at all, as our stints down there will in all probability be only 15-20 minutes at a time, BUT I have a small packet of Bailey’s food and I could take a small collapsible travel bowl for a bit of water for her as well, and maybe a piddle pad. Those things don’t take up much room at all & would be easy to store in our large cooler. Thanks for your suggestions. ~TxH~


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