Weather radio law may be one of several protections

Picture of a programmable weather radio.
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Indianapolis - Some experts hope a new state law requiring weather radios in mobile homes will be the first step in a series of needed improvements to help keep residents safe when tornadoes and other storms hit Indiana.

The law requires mobile homes installed in Indiana after June 30 to be equipped with weather radios that can alert people of pending bad weather. The bill was initiated by Kathryn Martin, whose 2-year-old son, C.J., and two other family members died in a Nov. 6, 2005 tornado that struck the Eastbrook Mobile Home Park in Evansville.

The tornado devastated the mobile home park and killed 25 people across southwestern Indiana.

Jim Keller, a lobbyist for the Indiana Manufactured Housing Association, said all homes can benefit from weather radios, not just homes located in Indiana's 1,200 mobile home parks.

At Chuck's Mobile Home Park in Indianapolis, some residents said the weather radios can help, especially at night or when televisions aren't turned on.

The next steps to protect residents should be reinforcing existing warning systems and creating shelters for mobile home residents, experts said. Most mobile home parks have no shelters but are particularly vulnerable to tornadoes.

"Mobile homes give wind pressure a large area to act on, but they don't have a lot of dead weight to keep anchored down," said Ernst Kiesling, a Texas Tech University civil engineering professor and executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association.

Mobile home residents make up less than 10 percent of the country's population, but make up about 33 percent of all tornado-related deaths, he said. From 2000 to 2005, mobile home residents accounted for more than half of tornado-related deaths.

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Cause for Alarm - Read 13 Investigates' reports on tornado sirens and their failure to work in certain areas. You can also find information about weather radios in this section.