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Positive Reinforcement Works!

The reason to adopt a scheme of positive reinforcement is that this approach saves lives! We have been telling people for many, many years that the most effective actions to take when threatened by a tornado is to get underground, if possible. If it is not possible to get underground, get inside a well constructed building, get inside as far as possible (i.e. get as many 'things' between you and the tornado and the debris as possible), get down as low as possible, and cover up. Providing people with sound and practical information of what TO DO saves lives. This was confirmed yet again on May 3rd when many people survived with only minor injuries by seeking shelter in an interior room on the lowest floor and covering up. This was even true in the strong and violent damage areas! It is estimated by the City of Moore Emergency Management that over 2,000 people were in the path of the Oklahoma City tornado when it passed through the city of Moore (a southern suburb of Oklahoma City), yet only 5 fatalities occurred in Moore. Two of the deaths occurred to people who were outside (one underneath the Shields Boulevard overpass). Only 3 people in well built structures out of an estimated over 2,000 died by following the current safety guidelines. In a tornado of that strength, this is a remarkable statistic!

The picture in the silde above is of an interior room that was the only part of a house to survive in an area where violent intensity damage was done by the Oklahoma City tornado. 7 people walked away from the remains of this room after the tornado with only minor injuries, even though the rest of their neighborhood was destroyed. There are many other stories like this, revealing clearly the value of the safety instructions we have been advocating for decades. Contrary to what is implied by the national magazine photograph captions shown in slide 2, most of those who stayed in their homes on May 3rd did NOT pay the price! Most survived, and many walked away with only minor injuries! For more detailed information about building safety and performance, the reader is directed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency document “Building Performance Assessment Report: Midwest Tornadoes of May 3, 1999.” This document can also be accessed on the internet at http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=1423.

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