5 Serious Safety Lessons from Real Life

Learn from these recent tragic or near-tragic mistakes

Angela Nelson (@BostonAngela) Health October 9, 2015

We all make mistakes. If we’re lucky, we walk away and do better next time. But some mistakes don’t give you a second chance.

All of us can learn valuable safety lessons from these five true stories, which recently made headlines.

1. Lesson: Don’t feed the bears

black bear black bear Photo: Tom Reichner/Shutterstock

On October 2, Reuters reported that an 85-year-old Montana woman was attacked and killed by a black bear she had been feeding. The bear entered her home, where it mauled her.

Feeding bears is against Montana state law because it can cause bears to lose their natural fear of humans, Neil Anderson told Reuters. Anderson is the regional Fish, Wildlife and Parks manager. If bears lose their fear of people, they can become aggressive, according to the National Park Service.

Related: What to Do If You Encounter a Bear

2. Lesson: Everyone on a boat needs a life jacket

Life jacket and buoy Life jacket and buoy Photo: Zuubiero/Shutterstock

A 26-foot boat recently got caught in a storm and capsized on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin, according to the Oshkosh Northwestern. There were four passengers, but only three life jackets. Three people put on the life jackets and a fourth held onto a floating seat cushion. Fortunately, he survived.

The U.S. Coast Guard requires a boat to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person aboard. And boats longer than 16 feet must have at least one Type IV throwable device as well. The Coast Guard also says life jackets must be easily accessible.

Related: Boating Safety: Could You Pass the U.S. Coast Guard Test?

3. Lesson: Don’t text and drive

Don't text and drive Don't text and drive Photo: Annette Shaff/Shutterstock

On October 6, a 16-year-old boy was in critical condition after a car crash in Iowa. Polk County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Dan Charleston said he was texting right before the accident, WHO-TV reported. Charleston told the TV station that when he arrived on the scene and went to help the teen, a phone was on his lap with a half-written text message on the screen.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three types of distracted driving: visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel) and cognitive (taking your mind off driving). Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three, the CDC says.

Currently, 46 states ban texting while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Related: 7 Ways to Prevent Your Teen from Texting and Driving

4. Lesson: Wear your seat belt

Woman fastens seat belt Woman fastens seat belt Photo: perfectlab/Shutterstock

On October 6, an 18-year-old woman involved a three-car accident in Ohio was ejected from her car, according to WKYC. She wasn’t wearing her seatbelt. Her Pontiac Grand Am reportedly struck one car, then rolled over and struck a another before coming to a stop on its roof. She was airlifted from the scene with serious injuries.

Wearing a seat belt is the law for a good reason. In 2012 seat belts saved an estimated 12,174 lives, and from 2008 to 2012 they saved nearly 63,000 lives, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In 2013, 9,580 unbuckled passengers were killed in crashes in the United States. People in the front seat who wear a seat belt lower their chances of dying in a crash by 45 percent, the NHTSA says. And a seat belt is your best defense against any drunk drivers who may be on the road, according to the NHTSA.

5. Lesson: Keep your distance when feeding snakes

royal python royal python Photo: Zhukov Oleg/Shutterstock

A Kentucky pet store owner recently was attacked by a 20-foot python when he stepped into the animal’s enclosure to feed it, according to the Washington Post. The snake reportedly bit Terry Wilkins before coiling itself around his head, neck and torso, which is how pythons kill their prey. Police arrived at the scene and pried the snake off Wilkins, who was treated and released from a local hospital.

When you feed a snake, don’t enter its enclosure. Use long tongs to deliver the food instead of your hands, advises Mark Magazu, DVM, chairman of St. Francis Veterinary Center in New Jersey. Magazu recommends using tongs that are about 16 inches long to feed bigger snakes.

Related: What to Do if You Encounter a Snake

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