I was a bit amused when I got an email notice from the CDC a couple of weeks ago reaffirming their recommendation on behavior during a tornado. It clearly stated “the CDC continues to recommend, as its first recommendation, that people in the path of a tornado find a shelter or a tornado-safe room.” OK, check…got that!

The notice then went onto say “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.  Individuals may decide to use helmets to protect their heads. However, because the time to react may be very short, people who choose to use helmets 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.  For those who choose to use helmets, these helmets should not be considered an alternative to seeking appropriate shelter. Rather, helmets should be considered just one part of their overall home tornado preparedness kit to avoid any delay.”

Helmet use?!?!?! My reaction was…what is all of this about?!?!?!? You have just gotta love the Internet.

The first ten pages of Google searches was this CDC release told over and over by different news outlets and bloggers.  Finally on page eleven, I hit gold!  Turns out in January researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Injury Control Research Center released the results of their research that “helmets may prevent injury or death for those caught in a tornado.” Posted online on its website, the research team suggests that any kind of safety helmet, from hard hats to football helmets to bike helmets, are an essential addition to an individual’s tornado-safety preparations.

Who knew?!?!?!

The researchers recommend “the use of any helmet, or head covering made of a hard material and worn to protect the head from injury, stored in an easily and readily accessible location in the home, workplace or vehicle for which one of its purposes is to be worn in the event of or threat of tornadic activity.”  They describe a safety helmet as any structurally sound helmet, such as a motorcycle helmet, football helmet, baseball helmet, bicycle helmet, skateboard helmet, or even a construction hardhat; as long as the helmet’s original intended purpose is to minimize anatomical damage sustained as a result of high-velocity impact. The ideal tornado helmet would be a full-sized racing-style motorcycle helmet with a full-face shield, as it provides complete head and face protections and is designed to minimize neck injury.

So back to the CDC..did they recommend helmet use?!?!  Not really…the text of their comments is verbatim in the second paragraph above but I found numerous articles and blogs clearly stating that CDC recommended helmet use.  Look at this snapshot of a blog stretching the truth a tad…the way they crafted the article, it looks like it is directly from the CDC.

Stretch The Truth
Which goes back to one of those basic truths of the Internet…don’t believe everything you read and dig a bit to ensure you do have the whole story!


So should you wear one…maybe!