Safety From The Storm – Part II: Outfitting Your Storm Shelter

by Texas Homesteader
*includes affiliate link

Last week I wrote about how important it was for me to have an underground storm shelter installed. It’s close to our home at the ranch to be able to stay safe when tornado season hits. 

There were many considerations for us to make for the actual installation. If you’re considering an underground storm shelter I urge you to read Safety From The Storm – Part I: Seeking Shelter.

But now that our shelter has been installed, what do we stock it with? I polled our wonderful  Facebook followers and they were so helpful (as they always are). Using their suggestions as a guide, here’s what we decided would be stocked into our shelter.

Now that we have our underground storm shelter installed, what should we stock in it? Read how we decided what items should be included #TexasHomesteader

(Note: Some links in this post are for further information from earlier posts I’ve written. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click them and buy something (almost anything, not just the item noted) I could receive a small purchase. But the price you pay will NOT change. It’s an easy way to support this blog without anything coming out of your pocket. So click often! Thank you!)

Stocking Only For Short Stays

Many around here love to use their storm shelter to store canned goods & such. I don’t plan on using the shelter for any other storage because I want to make sure the floor area is kept clear. It’s easier to clean and easier to see there’s no creepy-crawlers down there to worry about. #CreepyChildhoodMemory

Now of course you can go as far as you want with stocking your shelter. I’m assuming that 99% of our trips down into the shelter will be about a 20-30 minute duration. 

I’m only stocking our shelter for a slightly extended stay of maybe 2 hours. 

So I won’t be stocking food, cases of water, etc.

Of course you’ll want to decide the length of stay you’re stocking for.  With those decisions come other maintenance tasks – how often you rotate the items you store down there for freshness, etc. For my purposes, we’re only stocking for a short stay during a severe storm.


Bathroom Needs

One suggestion I heard most frequently is that we should have a covered container in case someone needs to use the bathroom.

(can you still use the terminology ‘bathroom’ if there’s no bathroom to use?? LOL)

This is a very good idea. Especially since in all probability our sweet neighbors with their two children could be joining us in this shelter. 

Little ones can’t necessarily ‘hold it’ like adults can. So I got a clean Folgers can and placed a roll of bathroom tissue inside. If needed this lidded container stands ready to be used.

Now that we have our underground storm shelter installed, what should we stock in it? Read how we decided what items should be included #TexasHomesteader

Compact Storage Doubles As Seating

All of our supplies will be stored in a very large nearly airtight * Igloo 100-Qt cooler that can also double as seating if needed. Having our supplies stored in this large cooler assures there will be no bugs to contend with. 

Not worrying about critters makes me feel better about rushing down there and sitting on a chair, for instance.

In this storage cooler we’ve included a couple of folding chairs to sit on while in the shelter. We also have a couple of 5-gallon lidded buckets in this large cooler. 

These buckets are inexpensive & can be used for additional seating if our neighbors show up. If needed they can also be used for lidded storage in the shelter.

My intent is to keep the floor of the shelter as clear as possible so that periodic ‘critter’ inspection can be done quickly & easily. Everything fits neatly inside the cooler.Now that we have our underground storm shelter installed, what should we stock in it? Read how we decided what items should be included #TexasHomesteader

Hydration Needs

I also have a couple of bottles of water to use down there if needed. I’m not a  big fan of  consumables stored for the long term in plastic though.

So even though I know I could store more bottles & just rotate the stock each year, I know myself well enough that it just wouldn’t happen. These two bottles of water should be fine for short stints inside the shelter.

Lighting Needs

We also have this *Battery-Powered LED light kit for light that we’ll install in the storm shelter.  It has with a remote control light switch that reaches 50 feet.

I think we’ll probably simply mount them on the ceiling of the shelter.  We can turn the lights on manually when we get down there.  It just seems simpler to me, and simpler is better in an emergency!

Now that we have our underground storm shelter installed, what should we stock in it? Read how we decided what items should be included #TexasHomesteader

Weather Radar

I tested for wifi cell signal with the shelter door closed and signal doesn’t quite reach down there. But our usual data cell service is almost full strength down inside the shelter. Of course if a tornado disabled the nearby cell tower it may not be available.

Otherwise it’s possible for us to use our smart phones to track radar, etc. as long as there is signal available. RancherMan is considering the purchase of a * wifi repeater/extender to extend the range of our wifi service.  That might give us a little stronger signal, but we’ll see if that’s even needed.

Grab-N-Go Emergency Kit

I’ll also take a cue from my dad who has an emergency bag loaded and by the door. It’s ready to grab on his way out to the storm shelter. (again, he’s in Tornado Alley so he goes out there a lot!)

In my emergency kit I’ll place a little LED flashlight & a small fleece lap blanket. I figure although we’ll already have light down there from the kit above, it might comfort the kids to have a small LED flashlight in their hands.

I’ve also purchased a small *Battery-Operated Fan. Since there will potentially be six of us in there, it might make it more comfortable to have the air circulating. I’m figuring each spring I’ll load up my emergency kit with these few items.

For those stocking for a longer stay in the shelter you can add a small supply of your prescription medications, although you’ll want to make sure to rotate to fresh meds often.

Below-Ground Moisture

And another very helpful Facebook follower suggested that we put some sort of moisture remover down there to eliminate musty odors inside our shelter. Now there’s something I never would have thought of. 

MAN I love our helpful Facebook followers!

Now that we have our underground storm shelter installed, what should we stock in it? Read how we decided what items should be included #TexasHomesteader

This container of *Damp Rid was only a couple of bucks. I’ll open it up in the spring when I go down there to tidy up & check our shelter supplies to make sure we have everything we need in our storm shelter.


I also have a piddle pad stored in the storage cooler since we’ll scoop Bailey up and take her to the shelter with us for safety. You know how pups can get when they’re nervous.

Our storm shelter has piddle pads stocked since we'll be taking Bailey into the shelter with us if needed. #TexasHomesteader

I also keep a large absorbent beach towel inside the sealed storage cooler. In all probability we’ll be making our dash to the storm shelter in heavy rain. We’ll be able to dry off with this towel to keep from getting chilled.

So there ya go! There’s all the shelter supplies we could think of that we’d need for a short-term in our storm shelter. I like that everything we’ll be using is tightly stored in a closed container.

Also be sure to check out my post about annual maintenance to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises when I run down there to escape a storm in the middle of the night!

What about you?  What’s your most important must-have shelter supplies in your underground storm shelter?


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14 thoughts on “Safety From The Storm – Part II: Outfitting Your Storm Shelter

  1. Joe Eppes

    We have just had high winds, scattered tornados and heavy rains all around us. Looking at purchasing an above ground shelter….. These ideas sure help for planning !!!! Thanks a bunch…Any suggestion on how to pick out a shelter? Prefer steel..
    Arlington, Texas

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      The weather this spring has been absolutely crazy here in NE Texas, Joe. We researched safe rooms but they were just way too expensive for our budget so we went with below ground concrete. RancherMan says your best bet is to google safe rooms and your zip code to find companies near you that sell safe rooms. Some will install them in your garage, some will integrate into your building plan if you’re building a new home. Good luck!

  2. Angi @ SchneiderPeeps

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us at Simple Lives Thursday. We don’t live where we have tornatoes (unless there is a hurricane) but I know many of our readers do. Good idea about the “bathroom”. Hope to see you again this week.

  3. Pingback: Making a Home - Homemaking Linky - Linda's Lunacy

  4. CTY

    I think a blanket or two might not be a bad idea–kids like to cuddle.
    One more thought–seeking shelter from a severe storm can cause high levels of stress. Have a barf bag on hand; sometimes nerves are shot & the body just reacts–can happen to kids or adults. Maybe have some smelling salts, just in case someone feels overwhelmed & faints.
    I pray you never need to use it.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      OMGosh, never even thought of a barf bag! You’re right, a storm like that can get to the nerves, especially with a child. If they were to throw up inside the shelter, it’d be all over for ALL of us! Thanks for the tip.

  5. ColleenB.

    Oh, and don’t forget about a dog leash and also very important is shut off your utilities; especially if you have gas. Make sure they are all shut off when leaving the house

  6. ColleenB.

    emergency kits

    Important: a good loud (coach’s )whistle or air horn

    weather radio


    Simple food…. (kept handy to take down with you when storm comes.Keep a three-day supply of simple, non-perishable food and water. Light-weight items that are packed with calories and energy are great options, such as:

    •Granola or energy bars


    •Peanut butter


    •Dried fruit

    • If you have a dog or a cat, put a little dog or cat food in there.

    Lumberjack” clothes. You want protective clothing. Most important—boots, thick socks, solid rugged jeans, good work gloves, and a coat. After a tornado, debris will be everywhere. Wood, glass, nails, and pieces and parts from everything. The boots, socks and jeans will protect your legs and feet. The coat is there in case your tornado is followed by chilly air.

    A copy of all of your important papers. Keep it simple. Make sure you have your insurance papers, identification papers and even a list of phone numbers for credit card companies, etc. Some information about your vehicles wouldn’t be a bad idea. You won’t have room for everything, but the more information you have, the easier it will be to get the ball rolling after the storm.

    A battery-operated cell phone charger

    Toilet seat that snaps on to 5 gallon container. Designed with snap on molded seat and lid that works great for emergency preparedness.

    Toilet Chemicals – Individual pouch of toilet chemicals for emergency sanitation preparation.

    moist towelettes

    Blanket or 2

    glow sticks and/or good flash light with extra batteries

    Many of these items can be stored in a suitcase or other container and sat by your house down for you to crab onb your way out to the storm shelter. Be prepared to have a couple extra sets of clothing as well. Remember; after a large storm it’s usually pretty chilly out so be prepared for that.

  7. Debbie S.

    I live in an area where an F-4 tornado came through just a few months ago. I might add a couple of pair of heavy duty work gloves and a pry bar. You may have to use those items immediately to help with a rescue.


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