Got helmets? Gear up for severe weather threats

Spring tornado season is here. Prepare for the worst with these suggestions from UAB.

severe weather graphicApril is the most likely month for major tornadoes in the United States, according to, and Alabama is at the head of the pack in deaths due to April twisters. The massive 2011 tornado outbreak alone claimed 248 fatalities in Alabama, and 363 across the southern and eastern U.S.

“The fury that is inflicted by tornadoes is absolutely overwhelming,” said Sarah Nafziger, M.D., a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and director of UAB’s Office of Emergency Medical Services. “With just a little preparation and some thought about the items we need to have in our safe place, we can go a long way toward keeping our families safe during a storm. We absolutely have to take them seriously every single time.”

In 2012, scientists at the UAB Injury Control Research Center published a research-driven commentary suggesting that helmets may prevent injury or death in severe weather situations and should be an essential addition to an individual’s tornado-safety preparations. Emergency management professionals now routinely recommend that every member of a family have a helmet and wear it during a tornado emergency.

The UAB Department of Emergency Management has prepared checklists of items to stock an emergency kit in preparation for the onset of severe weather.

  • Helmets (such as bike, motorcycle, athletic) for every member of the family
  • Sturdy shoes, to safely walk through glass and debris
  • First aid kit, with extra prescription and nonprescription medications
  • Battery-powered flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered radio, weather radio
  • Food items containing protein (nuts and energy bars), canned food, manual can opener
  • Bottled water for each person and pet
  • ID such as driver’s license; cash and credit cards
  • Cellphone charger
  • Baby supplies, if a small child is in the household
  • Copy of family emergency and communication plan
  • Emergency Financial First Aid Kit – FEMA

These checklists are meant to be a guide only. Personal needs may vary.