Helmets could be key to surviving tornado - KMSP-TV

Helmets could be key to surviving tornado

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In the aftermath of the Oklahoma tornadoes, there are several stories of survival from storm victims who were wearing helmets that may have saved their lives.

FOX 5 was one of the first stations in the southeast to cover the importance of helmets after the 2011 tornado outbreak in Alabama and Georgia.

The importance of helmets was first learned after 248 people died in the tornado outbreak in Alabama on April 27, 2011.

"Not surprising, almost half had died principally because of severe head injuries," said Russ Fine of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Seeking shelter and doing a better job of protecting your head may be the combination that saves lives in the future.

The conclusion is that safety helmets -- bike, motorcycle, sports -- should be worn when seeking shelter against a tornado.

Birmingham police officer Mike Culberson put on his motorcycle helmet when the April 2011 tornado picked up his home.

"I saw it, picked it up, put it on and went to my safe place," Culberson said.

He laid on the floor between the bath tub and the vanity as trees crashed down on his house and heavy beams blew through the ceiling on top of his head.  His motorcycle helmet protected him from serious injuries.

"I would encourage everybody during a tornado put something on your head," Culberson said.

Perhaps the most compelling case of all from the Alabama outbreak is from young Noah Stewart. He and his family were sucked out of their home. Noah flew as high as a telephone pole and landed a long way away.  Luckily for Noah, he was  wearing a baseball helmet.

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