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Helmets, Tornadoes and the CDC

A short note:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traditionally recommended, and the experts there continue to recommend, that the first and best line of defense for those in the path of a tornado is to seek and find shelter.  A tornado-safe room is best, of course.  Otherwise, the safest place in the home is the interior part of a basement.  Get under something solid and sturdy if possible — a heavy table, a workbench, something along these lines.  If you are outside, lie down flat in a ditch or gully.

We are repeating this advice because over the past few days there have been all sorts of stories in the media about helmets and tornadoes.  Now the CDC has long been suggesting that people cover and protect their heads during these violent storms —  with their arms and hands if necessary.  Doctors treating tornado victims of late have observed and reported that those tornado victims who happened to be wearing helmets at the time of the events suffered less trauma.  This is great as far as it goes and seems pretty obvious, and doubtless more research will follow these informal findings.  What the CDC does not want, however, is for people to delay seeking shelter as they search about for helmets.

So.  Helmets protect us — that is, after all, their job.  We cannot risk wasting precious moments as a tornado bears down on us looking for helmets, however, helmets we might wear for sports or cycling or other activities.  This means that helmets could/should be part of overall home tornado preparedness kits, kits always stored in handy spots, ready for an emergency.  The helmets should not be used for other stuff, either, or they probably won’t be there when we need them.

Most important of all, however, is this advice.  Getting to shelter is still number one, the first thing you do when a tornado warning sounds.  Add helmets to your emergency kits if you want to — it couldn’t hurt — but don’t stop heading for a safe place because you’re scrambling around, searching for protective gear.  There is absolutely no time for that once the warnings are issued.

The CDC promotes other protective measures: for more details, go to CDC Emergency Preparedness.

Have a great (safe) weekend!

Special thanks to USA.gov and CDC online newsroom.

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