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Tornadoes Don't Have to Be Deadly, Experts Say
Date:7/19/2012

THURSDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- More "safe rooms" to flee to, listening for weather alerts and better planning, especially for seniors, could reduce the death toll from devastating tornadoes, a new U.S.government report finds.

"People who work or live in tornado-prone areas should develop a tornado safety plan before severe weather strikes," said Federico Feldstein, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which conducted the new study.

The report focused on the aftermath of a deadly cluster of tornadoes that struck the southeastern United States last year between April 25 and 28, claiming 338 lives -- the third-deadliest tornado disaster in U.S. history.

The CDC researchers found that certain patterns emerged from the wreckage. They noted that 40 percent of bodies were recovered outdoors near the impact area, about half of the fatalities occurred in single-family homes, and those living in mobile homes were at especially high risk.

All of this emphasizes the importance of getting quickly to a "safe room," the CDC authors said, if one exists nearby.

According to the report, "federal and state assessments conducted after this disaster found a general inadequacy of available storm shelters in the impacted areas," which included locales in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee -- states long prone to tornadoes.

The CDC defines a safe room as "either an underground shelter, such as the interior part of a basement, or a specific tornado-safe room that is a hardened (e.g., concrete) above-ground structure specifically designed to meet Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) criteria for providing 'near-absolute protection' in extremely powerful weather events."

Helmets might also be useful, because head trauma was a leading factor in many of the tornado deaths. While there's no solid evidence that wearing a helmet can protect torn
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