Safety Lessons from 4 Real-Life Near-Misses

Here’s what we can learn from these mistakes

Angela Nelson (@BostonAngela) Health October 29, 2015

These four incidents, which recently made headlines around the world, teach us valuable safety lessons so we can avoid a similar fate.

1. Lesson: Prep wisely for desert treks.

Desert hike Desert hike Photo: Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock

A man from Perth, Australia, went hunting for feral camels and ended up being lost in the desert without water for six days, The Guardian reported. He survived by eating black ants before he was rescued and hospitalized, according to the report.

Police said he was wearing only shorts, a T-shirt, flip-flops and a baseball cap, and he was not carrying food or water. Search teams eventually found him by following a fresh set of foot tracks for about nine miles, the Australian Broadcasting Company reported.

Survival experts say if you’re going into the desert, cover any exposed skin, carry a mirror and whistle to signal for help (if you get lost) and bring one gallon of water per person per day.

Related: How to Survive in the Desert

2. Lesson: The same goes for mountain excursions.

Mountain hiking Mountain hiking Photo: Maridav/Shutterstock

A 19-year-old Montana man got separated from his elk-hunting party in the mountains, KPAX-TV reported. He used his cellphone to call 911 because it was getting dark, and he didn’t know where he was.

Search and rescue officials used the GPS data on his phone to find him and reunite him with his hunting party.

“The hunter did not have the necessary supplies to stay in the woods overnight,” Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin told KPAX. “If planning to hunt … stock your pack with the necessary survival gear should you be lost or injured, and stay in close contact with your partners."

Related: What to Do If You Get Lost in the Mountains

3. Lesson: Give space heaters their space.

Space heater Space heater Photo: Deyan Georgiev/Shutterstock

A garage fire in Dubuque, Iowa, started when a space heater was left unattended next to some kind of flammable liquid, KWWL-TV reported.

The space heater was too close to the combustibles, and they caught fire, assistant fire chief for the Dubuque Fire Department Cal Motsch told KWWL.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters account for 33 percent of home heating fires and 81 percent of home heating fire deaths. Keep anything that burns at least three feet away from the space heater. Also, turn off heaters when you leave the room or go to bed.

Related: How to Use a Space Heater without Causing a Fire

4. Lesson: Double-check the condition of that electric blanket.

Electric blanket Electric blanket Photo: GVictoria/Shutterstock

A woman in England was treated for smoke inhalation after a faulty electric blanket caused a fire, severely damaging the first floor of her flat, Boston Standard reported.

Before you switch on that blanket, check for worn areas, loose plugs or other damage like cracks and breaks in the wiring, plugs and connectors, advises the Maine State Fire Marshal, and look for charred spots on both sides. Toss blankets that show signs of damage. (You may want to check for recalls, too.)

Also, turn off the blanket before you go to sleep. Read more on electric blanket safety here.

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