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Key items to stock in your storm shelter

By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather staff writer

When a severe storm erupts and spawns tornadoes, proper shelter is key to staying alive.

Whether riding out a storm in a basement, bathroom or designed storm shelter, it is crucial to keep that space equipped with the right materials to stay safe.

"People should take every warning seriously," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said. "Warnings are issued because there is good scientific data showing either a storm producing damaging winds, hail or a tornado, or is capable of doing so."

Having a plan in place before severe weather strikes will avoid any last-second panic or confusion. It also ensures that everyone will be prepared to handle a storm and its aftermath.

new orleans tornado damage

Anthony Brown walk through the debris of his neighbors home, whom he helped extricate after she was trapped inside, in the aftermath of Tuesday's tornado that tore through the New Orleans East section of New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

"We urge people to sit down with their families, talk about what they would do and where they would go during severe weather or other emergency," Lucinda Parker, public information officer at the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said.

A basic kit includes water, nonperishable food, a first aid kit, a flashlight and batteries. If sheltering pets or infants, keep a supply of baby formula, diapers and pet food in the kit as well.

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"We urge people to keep a kit at home, in their car, and if they do have a storm shelter, that would be a good place for a kit, as well," Parker said.

Other essential items to have on hand, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency:

1. Battery-powered radio
2. Pillows, blankets and other bedding (pillows can also be used as protection from flying debris)
3. Essential documents (birth certificate copies, insurance policies, etc.)
4. Toilet paper and bags for sanitation
5. Personal sanitation items (toothbrush, deodorant, etc.)
6. Whistle (to signal for help if trapped)
7. A change of clothes per person
8. Close-toe shoes and extra socks per person (especially if there is debris to tread over)
9. Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
10. Dust mask or cotton t-shirt (to filter the air)

For more safety and preparedness tips, visit

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