Saturday, April 28, 2012

If it's a good idea, why should you force people to do it?

Here's this NPR advocacy piece. It opens with a typical horrifying anecdote about an Alabama family that got caught in one of last year's Spring tornadoes.
Lisa, his wife, peered up into the swirling sea of debris and saw her son, Noah, floating above her — high above her, Lisa says: "I actually saw him up in the air, stuck up in it, being tossed around as high as the power lines."

Noah was twisting, churning, flying through the air, held up high by the tornado's angry winds. And then, Noah remembers, "the wind just immediately stopped, and I was going down headfirst, and then I think my helmet just cracked."
Yeah, they'd stuck a baseball helmet on their kid's head before heading for the ... shower stall, which was the closest thing they had to a tornado shelter. (ed note: The shower stall doesn't seem to have helped much.) The helmet, however, may well have saved Noah's life.

 I've lived in a tornado zone. I spent four years in the Texas panhandle, and tornado warnings were routine this time of the year. One storm in particular, I will remember clearly until my dying day. I thought there was a good chance that would be my dying day. It didn't occur to me to put on a helmet, but it wouldn't have been a bad idea. A little dorky, maybe, but still.

Hey, I think wearing a helmet on a motorcycle is simple common sense. In the incident that cost me my left leg and the remainder of my girlish laughter, my helmet was smashed. I think motorcycle helmets are a very good idea. I just don't think common sense needs a law.

And of course I did mention this was an advocacy piece, right?
The CDC website tells motorcyclists to wear helmets because they save lives; ditto for bicyclists. But if a tornado is bearing down? The CDC recommends people use their hands to protect their heads. It makes no mention of a helmet. For three months we tried to interview someone from the CDC, but the agency would only email a statement, which said: "The scientific evidence from helmet use during tornadoes is inadequate to make a recommendation." This has angered safety advocates such as Russ Fine. "I think their silence is deafening," he says, "and I'm embarrassed for them — terribly embarrassed for them."
Why is this so important to "safety advocates?" If they think helmets are a good precaution for tornadoes, why aren't they spreading the word - and the helmets - on their own? Why do they need the CDC?

The two other CDC-related issues the article mentions are seat belts and smoking. I think seat belts and quitting smoking are good ideas, too, and I'm a smoker. But those were two issues the CDC did decide to involve itself with, and now they're so surrounded with intrusive nanny laws I hate the sound of them.

Here's an idea: If you think something is a good idea, do it. If it turns out to actually be a good idea, spread the word.

If you think it's such a good idea that everybody should be forced to do it at the barrel of a gun, go to hell.


MamaLiberty said...

I was thinking about the tornado safety thing last week when the warning horns were being tested in town. I thought about sitting in the basement - with an incredible number of TONS of 12 inch logs, furniture, appliances and assorted other stuff directly above my head.

Somehow, I don't think a helmet would be of much help if that collapsed onto me. :)

Actually, the best way to "spread the word" about good ideas is to DO it, and if anybody wants to know they can ask you.

And absolutely... if anyone thinks their perfectly "good idea" should be made mandatory by the state, they can go to hell.

Craig Cavanaugh said...

I second, the motion is carried. They can go to hell.

Matt said...

CDC. Center for Disease Control. I didn't know that Tornadoes were a disease. Maybe the helmet advice would be better coming from the National Weather Service, or possibly NASA, or the FAA.