Dying for a good selfie shot?

From a Russian Selfie Safety campaign

From a Russian Selfie Safety campaign

Globally, more people have died in selfie-taking incidents this year than were killed by sharks. Nope, that’s unfortunately not a joke. So far this year, here’s the toll: Selfies, 12. Sharks, 8. From live grenades, bull chases and clifftops: people are dying to take selfies.

There’s even a Wikipedia page that tracks selfie-related deaths and serious injuries. Some deaths are the result of daredevils trying to get just the right adventure shot. Other deaths are the result of the selfie-taker being so absorbed in photo taking that they become oblivious to surrounding dangers.

And that says nothing of the scores or injuries and near-misses that have occurred while trying to get the ultimate selfie. No matter how strong you think your selfie game is, you probably can’t outrun a bear. One phenomena that is driving park rangers crazy is the number of people who get way-too-close to wild animals so that they can snag a shot with a bear, buffalo or moose over their shoulder. So many people are doing this that at least one park in Colorado closed down to visitors to protect both the bears and the selfie-taking people. Park rangers say that getting close to a bear, bison or any wild animal is highly risky – and turning your back on them is an invitation to an attack.

In Russia, where there have been more than 100 selfie-related injuries, the interior ministry launched a Safe Selfie campaign with a motto: “Even a million ‘likes’ on social media are not worth your life and well-being.” Our post graphic shows the situations the public safety poster suggests that selfie takers avoid.

The dangers of selfie taking have been exacerbated with the popularity of selfie sticks – leading an increasing number of tourist and public venues to ban selfie sticks for for insurance liability reasons.

Don’t wait: communicate – National Preparedness Month

preparathonSeptember is National Preparedness Month and this year, the theme focuses on ensuring that you have an emergency plan in place – waiting until a disaster happens is too late. Could your household pass the 10 Minute Challenge? And in a disaster, you might not even have 10 minutes to plan!

Here are just a few of the things you should do in advance:

  • Find out about community resources and emergency services and keep on your smart phone
  • Have a plan with your family for what to do and where to meet if disaster strikes
  • Build an emergency kit and a car kit
  • Store copies of all emergency documents in a safe alternate location in case you can’t access them in your home or office
  • Have contingency plans for your pets.

September 30 is National Prepareathon Day – this site offers info on how to prepare for an earthquake, flood, tornado, winter storm, wildfire or hurricane. Find tips for creating an emergency plan and a family communication plan and get access to tools and resources to help in the planning.

Here are a few useful resources we’ve posted in the past:

How to build a survival kit

Apps that could help save your life in an emergency

Posted in Uncategorized

Watch the roads: Autumn is peak deer-vehicle collision season

deer-in-highwayAs you’re out on the roads leaf-peeping, visiting apple orchards or commuting to-and-from work this autumn, keep a sharp eye out: The likelihood of striking a deer more than doubles in the fall.

Your normal odds of a ruminant-related collision claim is about 1 in 169, but the likelihood more than doubles during October, November and December, according to research by State Farm.

“Periods of daily high-deer movement around dawn and dusk as well as seasonal behavior patterns, such as during the October-December breeding season, increase the risk for auto-deer collisions,” said Ron Regan, executive director for the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “Changes in collision rates from year to year are a reflection of changing deer densities or population levels – more deer in a given area increases the potential for collision.”

Here are some other grim facts:

  • 191 deaths were the result of collisions with animals, with deer being the animal most often struck in 2013
  • The national cost per claim average is $4,135, up 6% from 2014 ($3,888)

If you see a deer in the road, should you swerve or not? Mike Winterle of Culture of Safety says don’t swerve:

“The leading cause of accidents, injuries, and deaths from deer-related accidents is when vehicles swerve in an attempt to avoid hitting a deer. Swerving can result in vehicles moving into oncoming traffic, crashing into trees and other objects, or evening rolling over. While it may be against a driver’s first instinct, the safest thing to do is slow down as much as possible and let your vehicle strike the deer. Instincts tell us to avoid an obstruction in the road, but if you can train yourself to not swerve to avoid deer in the road you will keep yourself, your passengers, and other drivers much safer.”

Here are some other tips from experts on how to avoid hitting wildlife:

III has some other advice for drivers: Cars and Deer – A Risky Combination; Consider Including Comprehensive Coverage on Your Auto Policy

For auto insurance advice, find a New England independent insurance agent – our members are the best!

Yikes – Massachusetts has some really bad drivers

bad driver

File this under “dubious distinctions”: Boston drivers, you are the worst! Your drivers are 157% more likely to get in a crash than the national average – they get in about one accident every three years. In a list of the 200 largest cities, you come in dead last at #200.

Worcester, you aren’t much better – you come in at #199. And no smirking from you, Springfield – you have the 5th worst driving record!

The honors for the city with the nation’s safest drivers goes to Kansas City, where drivers are 24.8% less likely than the average U.S. driver to get in a crash.

The ranking is from Allstate’s annual “America’s Best Driver Report.” You can read a summary of our miserable record at Boston.com’s story: Bostonians crash more than twice as often as the average driver

The only consolation is that despite the number of bad urban drivers in the state, Massachusetts did not make the list of the 10 states with the worst driving records.

Hey, all you bad drivers – here’s some advice from “Uncle Bob”: 70 Rules of Defensive Driving

How to stop a runaway horse & other vintage life hacks from days of yore

We thought we’d ease you back to the work week with a fun post on vintage life hacks. The Internet loves “life hacks” – tips, tricks and shortcuts to solve everyday problems or help you increase efficiency. We’ve carried some previously here on this blog – see Handy household hacks: creative uses for everyday products and Everyday products you’ve probably been using wrong.

Back in the olden days (yes, there was life before the Internet, kids), “life hacks” were often called “household hints” and were often featured in newspaper and magazine columns. But before that, in the Victorian era, there were “trade cards.” Trade cards were typically two-sided cards with art on one side and information on the other side. The content could be fun, humorous, useful or handy. They were an important part of pop culture of the day. The goal was to carry an advertiser’s brand and get people to collect the entire series. Cigarette manufacturers eagerly seized on trade cards as a way to spark repeat purchases.

Here’s a link to a gallery of vintage household hints from Gallaher’s Cigarettes of Belfast & London on such useful topics as how to make a fire extinguisher, how to extract a splinter, how to clean real lace and how to stop a runaway horse. We’ve excerpted a few below.

Other advertiser’s also produced “how-to” trade cards of household hints. Check the site’s sidebar to explore more topics.


How to blow a brick over


How to treat squeaky boots