Mortality from a tornado outbreak, Alabama, April 27, 2011

Cindy H. Chiu, Amy H. Schnall, Caitlin E. Mertzlufft, Rebecca S. Noe, Amy F. Wolkin, Jeanne Spears, Mary Casey-Lockyer, Sara J. Vagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives. We describe the demographics of the decedents from the tornado outbreak in Alabama on April 27, 2011; examine the circumstances of death surrounding these fatalities; and identifymeasures to prevent future tornado-related fatalities. Methods. We collected information about the decedents from death certificates, disaster-related mortality surveillance, and interview data collected by American Red Cross volunteers from the decedent's families. We describe demographic characteristics, circumstances and causes of death, and sheltering behaviors before death. Results. Of the 247 fatalities, females and older adults were at highest risk for tornado-related deaths. Most deaths were directly related to the tornadoes, on scene, and trauma-related. The majority of the deceased were indoors in single-family homes. Word of mouth was the most common warning mechanism. Conclusions. This tornado event was the third deadliest in recent US history. Our findings support the need for local community shelters, enhanced messaging to inform the public of shelter locations, and encouragement of word-ofmouth warnings and personal and family preparedness planning, with a special focus on assisting vulnerable individuals in taking shelter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e52-e58
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Aug 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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