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You may remember that when an F5 tornado with wind speeds of up to 210 mph struck Moore in 2013, 7 children and a teacher died at Park Towers Elementary School because the school incredibly had no tornado shelter. A year later the school still has no tornado shelter. But not to worry- students are getting bicycle helmets.

I'm a retired  public school teacher. I still remember the day a tornado was spotted in the vicinity of my school in Houston, and we did the only thing we could to protect students- got them lined up in the interior hallway, and have everyone crouch and cover their necks with their hands. Didn't seem like it would do much good if our 50+ year old building collapsed on top of us but since tornadoes are relatively rare in Houston, schools don't have tornado shelters. Why schools in Moore, Oklahoma have no tornado shelters is harder to rationalize.

"Safety is our highest priority, Of course, I’m going to want my kids to be as safe as they possibly can, but that being said, I also don’t want to mandate in certain instances that they have to do certain things.”- House Speaker Pro-Tem Mike Jackson R- Enid
I believe the state should stay out of telling local school districts to build shelters,” Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa,
When the Oklahoma State Legislature convened in January, two competing tornado shelter plans were being considered- a $500,000 state bond package that could be used by local school districts to build shelters while Gov. Mary Fallin perferred to let school districts raise money locally by raising taxes.

Ah yes. The state has no problem with things like accountability and testing, but when it comes to paying for children's safety, that's a local issue.

While the state legislature debates whether student safety is a state or local responsibility, and  group has come up with a dubious temporary solution- helmets.  

Yep. Helmets. A group called Moore Helmets for Schools has raised enough money to buy a helmet for every student and employee in Moore, Oklahoma. The helmets are being delivered to classrooms in nice blue plastic storage boxes.

The well-meaning mom who organized this project says her research shows helmets cut the risk of serious injury or death in half. Others disagree.  Here's what the CDC has to say about helmets and tornadoes:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend, as its 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. If outdoors, lie down in a gully or ditch.

We understand that people are looking for any useful and 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. CDC has long made the recommendation that people try to protect their heads. Because the time to react may be very short, if people choose to use helmets they 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. If people 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.

CDC continues to promote protective measures for use during natural disasters including tornadoes.

A tornado shelter or tornado- safe room is the safest place for children to be in a tornado. There is no research on the effectiveness of helmets, and furthermore, looking for a helmet in the few seconds before a tornado hits could actually delay getting to a shelter.

Meanwhile we have the sad spectacle of politicians debating  how to pay for saving childrens' lives.

4:22 PM PT: Study advocating  "tornado helmets" :

http://www.uab.edu/...

4:29 PM PT: Apparently they are skateboard helmets that cost $6 each. 34,000 purchased so far.  Have to wonder how much protection a $6 helmet offers from an F5 tornado.

http://www.koco.com/...

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Comment Preferences

  •  Typical Republicans (11+ / 0-)

    Watching pennies while children's lives are at stake.

    Now if Halliburton got themselves into the tornado shelter business, that would be a whole different issue.

    Election Day is Nov 4th, 2014 It's time for the Undo button on the 2010 Election.

    by bear83 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 01:57:54 PM PDT

  •  I am old enough to remember the original duck (11+ / 0-)

    and cover during the height of the cold war. In 8th grade in1959 we were told to take our largest book and get under our desk and use the book to cover the back of our neck. It had to be our largest book, or else. I thought it was an improbable way to counter H bombs. I remember hoping they would not blow up the world before I got a chance to see Haley's Comet in 1986.

    Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

    by J Edward on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 02:11:03 PM PDT

    •  Did you see the comet? n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      J Edward, loblolly

      The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

      by amyzex on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 02:31:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. Drove out into the Everglades (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        loblolly, amyzex, kurt, third Party please

        to see it with a friend I was visiting. Was nothing like the great show in 1906, just a smudge in the sky.

        Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

        by J Edward on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 10:41:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I remember those in San Diego. When some of (6+ / 0-)

      us kids tried to point out that possession of a surface fleet, submarine fleet, military bases and training bases, multiple military airfields and a ton of defence industry and military research we were a big enough target that it would be simply glass from El Toro to Tia Juana we got sent to the office for insubordintion.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 02:56:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  H-bomb on Honolulu, Hawaii because of Pearl Harbor (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        enhydra lutris, Calamity Jean, kurt

        … and its nuclear sub base and stuff . . .

        We kids were a lot more honest than grownups about the fact that, in a war using what is nowadays euphemistically called "all options on the table," our @ss was gonna be glass.

        The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

        by lotlizard on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 03:17:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I remember them too (0+ / 0-)

      Good thing we've still got politics in Texas -- finest form of free entertainment ever invented.- Molly Ivins

      by loblolly on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 03:12:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I remember them from elementary (0+ / 0-)

      school in the early 60's.  We were sent to the interior hallways and were more worried about tucking our skirts over our behinds than the possibility of a bomb.

      Funny what you remember - some kid always whispered "He farted!" and made us laugh loudly.

      The truth always matters.

      by texasmom on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 03:21:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I vividly remember (5+ / 0-)

      my instrumental music teacher scoffing at the stupidity of these "duck and cover" exercises, as we ducked under tables during a drill. "Do they really think this will help us if we get bombed? It's ridiculous!" he mumbled. It was a transformative moment for me that a teacher, of all people, an authority figure, felt this way. I'll never forget it.

      It became very clear to my 10-year-old self that the problem was that bombs were really stupid. And someone of importance in the world - not just my weird, left-wing parents - thought so, too.

  •  Given the fact that tornado debris can (5+ / 0-)

    penetrate solid objects given the high velocity, I think that helmets would give a tragically false sense of security. Until society values the lives and health if all people - not just deep pocket GOP donors - we can probably expect more of this sort of "feel good" approach. When enough bodies pile up, or enough kids endure life-long disabillties due to tornado injuries, it will be business as usual.

  •  Its better than nothing (0+ / 0-)

    Head injuries tend to be serious, however there are better options.  Long term the state should pay to retrofit schools despite the fact that tornado are most likely to strike when students are not at school (between 4 and 9pm).  I wonder if it would be better in terms of $per quality year of life saved to spend it on improving housing stock.  

    I have to wonder if home building standards should be biased against cheap boxes of ticky tacky.  Its a deep red state so reasonable precautions that can be taken like discouraging development in tornado ally, strong building standards, requirements for tornado shelters where prudent are unlikely to be mandated.  

    If the state was serious about this:  
    1.  Mandate that all new residential construction is hurricane resistant.  Require all public buildings are adequately protected.  Same with workplaces.  
    2.  Provide incentives to refit homes.  
    3.  Discourage construction in the most vulnerable parts of the state.  

    I'm a 4 Freedoms Democrat.

    by DavidMS on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:40:58 PM PDT

  •  Easier and cheaper to build in tornado safe rooms (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    It's possible but prohibitively expensive to build a tornado safe home, and you probably wouldn't want to live there according to Randy Shackelford, a structural engineer with Simpson Strong-Tie, a company that makes high-strength metal connectors, and an executive member of the National Storm Shelter Association:

    To be completely safe, the entire house would need to be "missile-resistant." What this means, according to Shackelford, is that the building would have to be able to withstand 250 miles-per-hour winds, which can launch items as big as a 15-pound two-by-four at 100 mph at walls. To reach that level of protection, one's home would have to be made "with solid concrete, no windows and a steel door," he said.

    It makes far more sense to compartmentalize tornado fortification, added Tanner. "You can protect your family so much more inexpensively and safely with an above ground safe room that has been tested and engineered or with a belowground shelter that has a tested door on it," he said.

    From the UAB study comes this bit of wisdom-
    it is common sense that any protective helmet is better than no helmet at all
    .

    The CDCsays    

    If people 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.

    Good thing we've still got politics in Texas -- finest form of free entertainment ever invented.- Molly Ivins

    by loblolly on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 08:18:07 PM PDT

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