NPR : News

Filed Under:

CDC Says Helmets Are No Match For Tornadoes, But They Might Not Hurt

Can a helmet protect you in a tornado?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there's no research on how effective helmets are in preventing head injuries during tornadoes.

But, in what looks like a first, the agency says, in effect, that it's not out of the question that they might help.

Last year, tornadoes claimed the lives of more than 500 people in the U.S. Some safety advocates say protecting your head with a sturdy helmet could help reduce injuries and deaths.

But when NPR's Russell Lewis asked the health gurus at the CDC about the merits of the approach, he didn't get much of an answer.

As he reported last week:

"The CDC website tells motorcyclists to wear helmets because they save lives; ditto for bicyclists.

But if a tornado is bearing down? The CDC recommends people use their hands to protect their heads. It makes no mention of a helmet.

For three months we tried to interview someone from the CDC, but the agency would only email a statement, which said: 'The scientific evidence from helmet use during tornadoes is inadequate to make a recommendation.' "

Today, the CDC issued a statement that affirms the importance of getting yourself to a safe place, such as a basement, or deep in a ditch or gully if you're outside. That's nothing new.

But the agency says it recognizes that people facing down a tornado want to protect themselves however they can. "Individuals may decide to use helmets to protect their heads," the agency says. And it's not telling people to refrain from doing so.

Since time is likely to be short in a heavy-weather emergency, the agency recommends that you have a helmet ready to go in your emergency kit, if you think you'll want to use one. You don't want to be fumbling around for one as a funnel cloud draws near.

Of course, a helmet alone is no match for a tornado. "For those who choose to use helmets, these helmets should not be considered an alternative to seeking appropriate shelter," the CDC says. "Rather, helmets should be considered just one part of their overall home tornado preparedness kit to avoid any delay."

For more information on how to prepare for a tornado, the CDC has some advice here.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Nate Parker's Past, His Present, And The Future of 'Birth Of A Nation': Episode 14

News of a 1999 rape case against Nate Parker raises some age-old questions about culture. Can art be separated from its creator? What moral obligations, if any, do the consumers of culture bear?
NPR

Berkeley's Soda Tax Appears To Cut Consumption Of Sugary Drinks

According to a new study, the nation's first soda tax succeeded in cutting consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. But there's uncertainty about whether the effect will be permanent.
WAMU 88.5

Questions About Hillary Clinton’s Newly Uncovered Emails

A federal judge orders a review of nearly fifteen thousand recently discovered Hillary Clinton emails from her time as Secretary of State. A new batch related to the Clinton Foundation was also released. Join us to discuss ongoing questions.

NPR

Instagramming In Black And White? Could Be You're Depressed

Researchers analyzed people's photo galleries on Instagram, then asked about their mental health. People who favored darker, grayer photos and filters were more likely to be depressed.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.