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April 30, 2009

In case of tornado, keep your seatbelt fastened

BALTIMORE -- For 50 years the National Weather Service (NWS) has advised people in mobile homes or driving in the path of tornadoes to abandon their cars or mobile homes and lie flat in a ditch if no other shelter is available.

UMBC Emergency Health Services Associate Professor Rick Bissell recently lead a team of researchers who crafted new public advisory guidelines for the American Red Cross that now advise people who cannot reach a sturdy building to seek shelter in a car and remain there with seat belts fastened and ignition on for the duration of the tornado warning period.

The Weather Channel, which for 20 years has repeated the NWS advice to seek shelter in a ditch, broadcast the new Red Cross public advisory guidelines for tornadoes on April 29. Click here to watch the video.

Bissell heads the Preparedness Sub-Council of the American Red Cross's scientific
advisory council (ACFASP), which recently evaluated the scientific literature behind preparedness and public safety messages related to natural hazards such as tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, etc.

After a rigorous literature review, ACFASP found no evidence to support the NWS suggestion that people should lie in a ditch in tornadoes if they cannot find a solid shelter, and significant evidence that automobiles provide substantially more protection than mobile homes or being outside.

The new tornado advisory guidelines recommended by ACFASP were created in consultation with Dr. Tom Schmidlin from Kent State University, one of the nation’s most active tornado safety researchers.

Posted by kavan at April 30, 2009 11:36 AM