Wearing a helmet during a tornado may help reduce head injury, according to the CDC. Trying to find a helmet instead of taking cover in that short time, however, is not okay. The Center for Disease Control says that getting to safety is your first concern.
The Center for Disease Control said in a statement on May 4, 2012, “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.”
The CDC reported, “Rather, helmets should be considered just one part of their overall home tornado preparedness kit to avoid any delay. 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.”
Wearing a helmet during a tornado shouldn’t be an alternative to seeking shelter. The CDC wants to make it clear that a helmet won’t protect you from the outside environment, rather the helmet will help reduce head injury. Head injury is the number one cause of death during tornadoes.
“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.
USA Today reported one instance where a helmet did save a child’s life during a tornado. Mark Baker, an pediatric emergency physician at Children’s of Alabama. Baker and colleagues at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, began advocating helmet use in tornadoes after an outbreak on April 27, 2011, killed 21 people in their community. “This is very sensible advice,” he says. A nine-year-old boy who came to the hospital with some bruises and scrapes, but was OK after he was thrown more than 100 yards. The boy had been wearing a baseball helmet. Baker thinks it saved him from the kind of serious head injury he saw in dozens of other children that night, including two who did not survive.
“We understand that people who have seen the tragedy that tornadoes can impose are looking for any useful and effective ways to protect themselves,” the CDC said.