With tornado season upon us and hurricane season officially beginning on June 1, it’s time to start thinking about your summer storm preparedness plans and supplies. Even for those who don’t live in Tornado Alley or on the Gulf or Atlantic coasts, a severe thunderstorm can happen anywhere and have devastating effects on your area. This is the kind of weather in which you hunker down and ride it out, but you’ll need some supplies for that. Here are some of the goodies you’ll want to have on hand before the next batch of bad weather hits your hometown and knocks your electricity out.

You won’t really know what’s going on in your area unless you have some means of listening to the news and weather reports, and a small battery-powered radio can become one of your most valuable possessions. Be sure to get one that broadcasts the NOAA weather bands (which are very informative in bad weather) and is rechargeable. There are models that are solar powered, can be charged with a hand crank, or take a charge via USB, and some that feature all three options. Failing that, use any radio you’ve got in order to stay informed, even the one in your car (assuming it’s safe to get to it).

If you live in an urban or suburban area and a storm knocks out your power, the water may soon follow. If you draw water from your own well, then your supply will be gone as soon as the power is cut. Store ample drinking water for your family in a place that is cool and dark. Gallon jugs are easy to carry and their size can help with water rationing. Five-gallon water cooler jugs are nice for their volume, but are difficult to pour. Allot 3 gallons per family member to get you through the average storm emergency. Should you run out, it’s wise to have disinfection options to resupply from other water sources.

Food and Cooking
Stock up on some foods that you know your family will like, and pay special attention to foods that are ready to eat. MRE’s are good, but they are expensive and may be rejected by picky eaters. Easy-to-cook foods can be manageable, if you plan ahead with a cooking source. Sterno cans, alcohol stoves, and MRE heaters will warm up some foods for you, without any home ventilation issues. Other types of camping stoves can serve your needs with proper ventilation. Cooking outside after the weather has cleared is another option. Fire up the grill and eat those rapidly defrosting steaks you had in the suddenly useless freezer. If none of these are an option for you, eat cold foods. Peanut butter and crackers, canned meats and crackers, cold sandwiches, and all kinds of snacks can be eaten without the bother or dangers of cooking. Don’t forget to have extra food for your pets, too.

First Aid Supplies
Emergencies and injuries seem to go hand in hand. This makes first aid gear an important part of your self-reliance strategies. If you don’t currently have a first aid kit, buy a pre-stocked one from the store and beef it up by adding your most commonly used medications and additional supplies for extended wound management, such as extra gauze, dressings, and antibiotic ointments. Check out the FEMA website for information on first aid supplies.

While a room full of candles might sound like a relaxing place, it’s a serious fire hazard. The last thing you need during a severe storm is your for your house to catch fire and the firefighters unable to reach you through the blinding wind and rain. Buy several different items that provide battery-powered light for your home, and keep the candles to a minimum. Choose LED lights, as they’re typically very bright and a very long battery life. Keep extra batteries on hand, in case you get caught in the dark longer than expected.

What would you want if you were forced to shelter-in-place during a summer storm? What have you been glad you had in the past? Tell us your must-have items in the comments.