CDC issues study on 2011 tornadoes - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

CDC issues study on 2011 tornadoes

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A new Centers for Disease Control study of last year's tornado outbreak in the South says safe rooms may be the answer to saving lives.

That report says many of the fatalities were caused by head trauma and although most of the victims were inside a home at the time the storm hit, their bodies were found outside when the tornado ripped apart their houses.

From April 26 to April 28 in 2011, the third worst tornado outbreak in U.S. history saw 351 tornadoes across the Southeast kill 338 people, including 15 here in Georgia.

From a study of that event, the CDC advises for the first time that safety helmets may be an important consideration in a family's severe weather planning.

However, it wasn't a full endorsement of safety helmets, like the one that has come from emergency room doctors in Alabama.  The CDC in a new report said, "Currently, no data are available regarding the effectiveness of helmet use to prevent head injuries during a tornado. If persons choose to use helmets to protect their heads, they should know where the helmets are and have them readily accessible, because time to react might be short. Choosing to use helmets to protect the head should not be considered an alternative to seeking appropriate shelter. "

FOX 5 has recently reported on the recommendation by doctors at Children's Hospital of Alabama after they reviewed cases where a safety helmet saved a child's life.

"We thought this was really interesting because other people in the house were injured or seriously injured," said Dr. Mark Bake of Children's Hospital of Alabama.

Noah Stewart was thrown by a tornado more than 50 yards in Birmingham. He was saved because he wore a baseball helmet.

But the CDC says the most important preventative measure that can be taken is to add a safe room to a home.  It says more needs to be done to promote the idea of safe rooms and educate the public about what constitutes a safe room.

The CDC says a safe room should be either an interior room in a basement, or a reinforced room above ground.

Some safety experts in Alabama have been critical of the CDC's reluctance to endorse safety helmets in the past. They contend many people do not have the resources to build safe rooms and helmets are an affordable option.

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