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

by Texas Homesteader ~ 
*includes affiliate link

We had a concrete underground storm shelter installed, but we probably don’t stock it the same as others might.

There are some things that we feel are important and others that we just don’t. Wonder what made the cut?

In wondering what to store in our storm shelter I polled our wonderful  Facebook followers. They were so helpful with their suggestions (as they always are). 

Using their suggestions as a guide, here’s what we decided would be stocked (and what WOULDN’T) in 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 commission. 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!)

First, if you’re considering an underground storm shelter I urge you to read Making Plans For Underground Shelter.

In this article I discuss the considerations that were needed when we were making plans for having a shelter installed. But after it’s installed, another decision must be made… what to store in it?

Things Folks Store In A Storm Shelter

Many in our area love to use their storm shelter to store canned goods & such. I’ve heard it provides a more ideal environment for home-canned food storage.

Some even use their storm shelter to store their wines for the same reason. Others use the storm shelter to store seasonal items, or any manner of things really.

But I don’t plan on using the shelter for any other storage. I want to make sure the floor area is kept clear for a very important reason: It’s easier to clean and easier to see that there’s no creepy-crawlers down there to worry about. #CreepyChildhoodMemory

Stocking Only For Short Stays

Now of course you can go as far as you want with stocking your storm shelter. But I’m assuming that 99% (if not 100%) of our trips down into the shelter will only be about a 20-30 minute duration. 

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

There are a couple of reasons I’m comfortable with this decision: First, our storm shelter’s GPS location is registered in our county. So first responders know to check for us in the event of an emergency in our area.

And many of our family members live close. Obviously they’d be aware if a storm hit our area too. And we have many local friends as well.

So in the event of an actual disaster there will be any number of people who would be aware and be checking on us to make sure we’re ok.

Because of this I’m not concerned about trying to survive long term underground. I won’t be stocking food, cases of water, etc.

You’ll want to decide the length of stay you’re most comfortable stocking for. But keep in mind that with those decisions might come other maintenance tasks – how often you rotate the items you store down there for freshness, etc.

For our purposes we’ll only be stocking for a short stay during a typical 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 young children could be joining us in this shelter. 

Little ones can’t necessarily ‘hold it’ like adults can. So I saved 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. And that’s a very important part of my comfort-level expectations of running underground in the middle of the night during a storm.

Not worrying about spiders, scorpions, etc. tucked into a chair makes me feel better about rushing down there in the middle of the night and sitting on that chair.

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

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

5-gallon buckets are inexpensive & can be used for additional seating if our neighbors show up. And if needed they can also be used for lidded storage for the shelter.

But remember, my intent is to keep the floor of the shelter as clear as possible so that periodic ‘critter’ inspection can be done quickly & easily. So right now everything fits neatly inside the cooler.

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 water 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.

And to be honest I can’t imagine that I’d run to the safety of an underground storm shelter during a frightening powerful storm and declare “Boy howdy I’m thirsty!” Still those water bottles are there in case they’re needed. 

Lighting Needs

We also have *Battery-Powered LED lights for lighting needs in our storm shelter. The one we have has a remote control light switch that reaches 50 feet.

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

But instead of using a remote-control light switch I think we’ll probably simply mount our lights on the ceiling of the shelter right at the entrance.  We can press the lights to turn them on manually as we go into the shelter. 

It just seems simpler to me, and simpler is better in an emergency! But decide for yourself what kind of lighting might work best for you and your family.

Weather Radar

We tested for wifi cell signal down in the shelter with the door closed. I found the wifi signal doesn’t quite reach down there using our current wifi router.

But our cellphone’s data service is almost full strength down inside the shelter. Of course if a tornado disabled the nearby cell tower that data signal may not be available.

But on a typical stint down there in a storm we use our cellphone’s data signal to track radar, etc. as long as the tower remains intact & there is signal available.

But RancherMan is considering the purchase of a * wifi repeater/extender to extend the range of our home router’s wifi service. That might give us a little stronger signal, but we’ll see if that’s even needed.

Grab-N-Go Emergency Kit

My dad has an emergency bag loaded and by the door. It’s ready to grab on his way out to the storm shelter. (He lives in a section of Oklahoma known as Tornado Alley so he goes to his storm shelter a lot!)

So I may follow his lead and make up a small emergency kit of my own to grab & go on my way to our shelter. But I don’t want it to be too large nor loaded with too much, just a few things I might need.

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

I’ve also purchased a small *Battery-Operated Fan for my grab-n-go kit. Since there will potentially be six people in our underground shelter at one time, it might make it more comfortable to at least have some air circulating.

I’m figuring each spring I’ll load up my emergency kit with these few items, check and refresh batteries if needed, etc.

Below-Ground Moisture

Another very helpful Facebook follower suggested that we put some sort of moisture remover in our underground shelter to eliminate any musty odors. 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 small single container of *Damp Rid was only a couple of bucks. I’ll open it up in the spring when I tidy up & check our shelter supplies to make sure we have everything we need in our storm shelter.

Misc Items We Might Need

I also added a piddle pad stored in the storage cooler since we’ll scoop Bailey up and take her to the shelter with us for her 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 added 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 a list of 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 inside a closed container.

Also be sure to check out my post about annual maintenance to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises when scampering down into the shelter 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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11 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. Lil Raisin Acres

    Ditto the others that mentioned granola or other non-perishable snacks/food and the pry bar. Good post!

  3. 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.

  4. daisy

    Great post and what a good idea about the Damp Rid! Thanks for posting this on The Maple Hill Hop. Consider yourself pinned! ;0)

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Thanks for the ideas – the pry bar’s a good idea too, hadn’t really thought of that. ~TxH~


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