Tornado Bag?

I have one. It is a little different from my “flee-the-house-on-short-notice-bag”. People who live in fire-prone areas often have something similar that they can toss in a vehicle and skedaddle.

I broke it out for the first time in a while on Friday night. Into it went two hard drives, my wallet, ID pouch, checkbook, car papers, car keys, medications I’m taking or might need, Kindle and iLeash, small but mighty flashlight, and some jewelry. I changed into thick-soled shoes, and stashed the bag near the door to the shelter closet. I did not grab the papers I was grading. There’s already a basic first-aid pouch in the closet this time of year.

If the house were to take a hit, I don’t want to be barefoot or wearing soft-sole shoes. I’ve had to pick my way through debris the day after (was volunteering with clean-up) and there were a lot of splinters, nails, broken glass, what have you.

First aid pouch?  That one’s pretty obvious.

ID and other papers? Because it is hard to get money out of a bank with just a smile, and easier to get a hotel room, rent transportation, get clothes, what have you if you have cash or plastic to get cash with. Also, if the car were to go to Oz, I have proof of ownership for insurance purposes. Jewelry? Quick cash as well as sentimental value. The hard drives have my school computer and fiction computer on them, plus my remote back-ups.

Medicines are for non-emergencies but make life easier. If you take prescriptions, having at least a starter-stock will help get through the first 48 hours of chaos.

The point is: what do I want to (I hope) have on hand if the house goes away and leaves me behind. Obviously, this is very different from a get-out bag that you have lots of time to load and plan for, and that you know you can take in a vehicle. In the past I’ve also put in dissertation notes and two irreplaceable research books (oh, that was a long night!)


12 thoughts on “Tornado Bag?

  1. also, probably would not be bad idea to include copies (or an original copy) of any diplomas, school grade transcripts, or professional certfications.

  2. um…. iLeash?

    Backup hard drives is good. A USB hard drive (not a flashdrive, I mean a genuine hard drive with >1TB capacity) costs maybe a C-note, and unless you’re a photographer with ten or twenty years of archives it will hold all your data and still have plenty of room left over.

    Other thoughts: water purification tablets? a couple of MREs or boxes of granola bars? I dunno how big your storm closet is, but if I had the room I’d keep a full Coleman 5-gal water carrier in there. If there’s not room for that, then a couple of one-gallon jugs per person is a day’s supply.

    And a firearm and some ammunition for it, if you know how to shoot. Looters, like roaches, come out as soon as the storm is over.

    • My smart phone is the iLeash. I only have one so other people can keep track of me (Day Job, parents).

      My thought with a tornado bag is based on the assumption that the emergency is short term, staying local, with some resources still intact (main public water supply.)

      Firearms are a whole ‘nother topic.

  3. Hopefully, having prepared, you won’t need it. Oddly enough though we live on the edge of tornado alley (a couple of hundred miles east of you on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks) and have for forty years, I have seen the aftermath of several tornados but never the beast itself.

    • I’ve lived through two and seen one from above the rotation, inside the storm (while flying a med-evac run). Not experiences I care to repeat, thanks.

      • When I was 19-22, I was one of those idiots that went chasing storms to see tornadoes. Myself and two buddies would hear about a storm brewing somewhere in the panhandle area and whoever had the most gas in their vehicle was the driver. We were really big idiots, because none of us ever took a camera……

  4. Never say never, but while there have been tornados go hit north of Danville and tornados hit south of Danville, so far none have hit Danville (Illinois).

  5. “If the house were to take a hit, I don’t want to be barefoot or wearing soft-sole shoes.”

    This is an all-the-time thing with me. I have often noted in pictures and videos of disasters/terrorist attacks/vehicle wrecks/general mayhem that there are a lot floppy/sandal/barely-there-low-quarter shoes laying around and sock-/bare-foot people running around through broken debris.

    If you have to wear fashionable non-substantial, at least take along some solid shoes or boots.

  6. I have a multiple-bag system. The motorcycle tailbag hangs by the door; it has money, spare meds, a very basic first aid kit, hardcopies of some important papers, a thumbdrive with copies of most other papers and all my logins and passwords, spare glasses, paracord, Leatherman, and a charger cable for the phone. It’s the panic-grab-on-the-way-out bag. It’s also my “away” bag when I go on overnight trips.

    A shelf near the door has a larger bag with some spare clothing, spare CPAP machine, basic toiletries, extra ammunition, and other odds and ends. If I stuff some nicer clothes in, it’s my other “away” bag for trips.

    My wife and I have separate bags. I’d probably wind up carrying all of them. The correct method would be a proper pack frame and matching bags, but I’m not going to be going far on foot; my knees will give out before I have trouble carrying everything.

    If time and circumstances permit, food and water are packaged in carryable flats or plastic totes in the spare room; I can toss as many into the car as seem reasonable. I really need to re-sort that stuff into “go totes” of things that might be eaten cold (and a means of opening and eating them) and prepare-at-home items that require cooking. But hey, at least we *have* a modest emergency supply to root through if we need it.

    [thinking] I really ought to have a complete set of spare keys made and put them in the tailbag.

    Things I don’t worry about: my computer files are backed up regularly, multiple copies in the safe and off-site. Coats, gloves, and hats are near the door; I can grab whatever looks appropriate on the way out.

    You can always abandon items if the load gets too heavy, but it’s a good idea to open each bag every year or two, spread everything out, and take a look, particularly if the bags are multipurpose. I have a habit of tossing in “that might be useful” stuff one year, then looking at it a few years later and thinkg “WTF did I put that in there for?!”


    addendum for people with children: if the kids are big enough to carry a bag, give them one. Make it their responsibility to get it and keep track of it. Put a change of clothing, some snacks, and some identifying paperwork including contact information for family or friends to take charge of your children should you be separated, injured too badly to manage things yourself, or if you are killed. Toss in a picture of “these are my parents”. Those little ID pouches that some runners wear around their necks are a good idea too. If you’re “rescued” from a disaster, you might be separated from your children for an indefinite period. Let them bring a game, book, or toy to keep busy.

    If possible, pick a plan or destination and let everyone know. “We’re going to find a FEMA shelter” or “we’re going to Aunt Kay’s house”. Pick someone out of the disaster area as a (prearranged) contact – “If you get lost and can’t find us, tell the rescue worker to call Uncle Bob.”

    Also, if you’re moving out as a family, turn off all phones except one to save battery life. You can turn a parental phone on from time to time to check for messages; make any outgoing calls on the childrens’ phones first if possible.

  7. Good ideas from all, and I’m going to pull mine out tonight and check the ‘load’ in it… Need to update that EHD for sure!

Comments are closed.