CDC Backs Helmets for Tornado Safety

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted a statement supporting the use of protective helmets by people who are taking shelter from an approaching tornado. The statement says CDC has no research on their effectiveness to prevent head injuries, "but we do know that head injuries are common causes of death during tornadoes, and we have long made the recommendation that people try to protect their heads."

"Individuals may decide to use helmets to protect their heads," it continues. "However, because the time to react may be very short, people who choose to use helmets should know where they are and have them readily accessible. Looking for a helmet in the few seconds before a tornado hits may delay you getting safely to shelter. For those who choose to use helmets, these helmets should not be considered an alternative to seeking appropriate shelter. Rather, helmets should be considered just one part of their overall home tornado preparedness kit to avoid any delay."

CDC's first recommendation for anyone in the path of a tornado continues to be this: find a shelter or a tornado-safe room. "The safest place in the home is the interior part of a basement. If possible, get under something sturdy such as a heavy table or workbench. If outdoors, lie down in a gully or ditch," it recommends.

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Injury Control Research Center began advocating the use of protective helmets to prevent head injuries during a tornado in January 2012. They posted a commentary on the center's website saying any kind of safety helmet (hard hat, football helmet, bike helmet, etc.) is an essential part of an individual's tornado safety preparations. "Head injuries are a major cause of tornado-related deaths in the United States," said Scott Crawford, MPH, a research assistant at the center and the commentary's lead author. "Alabama is the nationwide leader in tornado-related deaths with 412 fatalities recorded since 1980, demonstrating the need for a readily available, low-cost intervention to reduce risk."

Posted by Jerry Laws on May 03, 2012