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Prevention of Child Injuries During Tornadoes: Cases From the 2011 Tornado Outbreak in Alabama

Campbell, Christine M. MD, MSPH; Baker, Mark D. MD, MPH; Monroe, Kathy W. MD

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e318276c8a3
Illustrative Cases

Background Tornadoes and violent weather pose a hazard to children, yet little is known about the use of personal protective devices during storms. An outbreak of tornadoes on April 27, 2011, resulted in the deaths of 23 children in Alabama.

Methods Records from 60 patients seen in a pediatric emergency department for tornado-related injuries were reviewed to identify the use of injury prevention devices.

Results Three children directly exposed to a violent tornado (Enhanced Fujita Scale 4) were using safety equipment, specifically, a helmet and infant car seats. These 3 children sustained only minor injuries.

Conclusions Personal protective devices may have played a role in preventing child injuries from tornadoes. To our knowledge, this is the first report in the medical literature on helmet and infant car seat use as child protective devices during tornadoes.

From the Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Mark D. Baker, MD, MPH, Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, The Children’s Hospital, CPP 110, 1600 7th Ave, South, Birmingham, AL 35233-1711 (e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.