Tornado helmet may help if no delay

May 3, 2012 at 11:53 PM

ATLANTA, May 3 (UPI) -- People who have seen tragedy caused by recent tornadoes are asking whether it would help to wear helmets when tornado warnings are posted, U.S. officials say.

Health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said they understand people who have seen the tragedy that tornadoes can inflict are looking for any effective ways to protect themselves.

"We don't have research on the effectiveness of helmet use to prevent head injuries during a tornado, 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," the officials said in a statement.

"Individuals may decide to use helmets to protect their heads. However, because the time to react may be very short, people 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."

Those who choose to use helmets should not consider them an alternative to seeking appropriate shelter, the officials said.

"Rather, helmets should be considered just one part of their overall home tornado preparedness kit to avoid any delay," the officials said. "The CDC's first recommendation, that people in the path of a tornado 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."

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