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.
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.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.
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.
Meanwhile we have the sad spectacle of politicians debating how to pay for saving childrens' lives.
4:22 PM PT: Study advocating "tornado helmets" :
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.