Selfie safety

Selfies can be fun but make sure your snap doesn’t turn into a trap. More than 250 people are reported to have died in their quest to take the perfect picture between 2011 and 2017 and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Selfie safety

According to research from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the most common causes of selfie-related deaths are:

  • Drowning (such as being swept off a beach or falling off a boat while taking a photo).
  • Transport-related accidents such as taking a snap in front of a moving train.
  • And falling from high places.

While accidents are most common among young men, there are plenty of reported cases among older people too including the couple in Portugal who fell hundreds of feet off a cliff edge after crossing a safety barrier to take a selfie. Their two children, aged five and six, witnessed the tragedy but were thankfully unharmed.


Tips for safer selfies

While it may seem obvious that hanging over the edge of a high building or balcony to take a photo is not a good idea, this does not stop some people doing this.

As a result of these unsafe practices, a number of tourist attractions now offer people advice on where and how to take a safe selfie, while some locations have banned selfies altogether. In Yellowstone National Park in the USA, visitors are advised to not take selfies next to geysers, or in Yellowstone Lake, or in a hot water spring, or on the edge of the canyon or next to any of the wild animals in the Park.

As well as avoiding taking selfies near trains, on boats, near wild animals, with weapons ( a number of people have accidentally shot themselves while posing with guns), on roofs, on hills/mountains, on stairs, while driving, in the middle of the street and near electrical posts here are some more tips:

  • Wherever you are don’t lean or stretch too far to take a photo as you can easily lose your balance.
  • Don’t walk backwards to get a better angle for you picture – you can’t see what’s behind you.
  • Make sure your feet are firmly on the ground before taking a snap. Apart from hurting yourself you could cause an accident. Last year, a woman in a Los Angeles sculpture museum lost her balance while taking a selfie and knocked down over $200,000 worth of art.
  • Don’t put others in danger when taking a selfie. For example, if you’re looking after children you need to keep your eyes on them at all times particularly around swimming pools , on the beach and around water.

Other things to consider

The more aware you are of your surroundings the less likely things are to go wrong. As well as vertigo, broken bones and missed flights, research shows that those in search of the perfect selfie have suffered unexpected consequences including:

  • Almost one in five (18%) have  lost important belongings like a wallet or passport (this could be that they fell out of pockets or were stolen).
  • And one in five (18%) broke their phone.
  • One in six (17%) offended locals.
  • And one in six (17%) were caught doing something they shouldn’t.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that a number of selfie accidents have occurred after people have been drinking.  Apart from impairing your judgment alcohol can also affect your balance and ability to react quickly to a situation.

Selfie sticks

Selfie sticks can help you take better pictures but they need to be used with care as they can be annoying for other people and cause accidents. Many places – including football clubs, music venues, museums and theme parks – have now banned them.

Social media

Sharing selfies on social media may be a must for many, but that instagram or facebook share raise some important safety issues to consider.

That iconic selfie – holding up the leaning tower of Pisa, posing with Mickey Mouse, sunset on a beautiful beach – tells people that you’re not at home, so it’s worth making sure you use the proper privacy settings on your social media to ensure only the people you want to see your selfies actually do.

Selfies and social media posts should not be tied to self-esteem but the number of likes and shares matters to children and young adults and can lead to self-esteem or bullying issues as well as attract attention from online predators and identity thieves. Encourage children to think about why they are sharing a selfie – ideally capturing a fun moment rather than better bragging rights.

Teach children (or get them to teach you) about privacy settings.  Only share if you are comfortable sharing with the world because what goes online, stays online so those swimsuit photographs could be around forever.


Published on 20/11/18

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