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It’s Time to Talk Selfies and Safety

SALEM, Ohio — Great photos are among the most cherished trip mementos. Capturing your photos safely is just as important as snapping that perfect shot.

The quest for more social media likes and followers ups the ante for spectacular shots and sometimes encourages dangerous quests to get them. Unfortunately, injuries and serious accidents associated with taking photos, selfies and videos appear to be increasing, driven in part by the popularity of imagery on social platforms.

Prioritizing social media imagery may also be fueling increases in visits to scenic travel locations, which can often come with unfamiliar environments and unique considerations. The National Park Service reported 330.9 million visits in 2017, the highest number ever recorded.

Safety for the Shoot

Travelers should respect a new environment and its risks, consider personal safety and heed posted warnings. Remind your travelers of the importance of staying grounded and safe while shooting, particularly in areas with natural hazards.

Take warnings and barriers seriously. The edge of a ledge or waterfall typically has slippery or crumbling surfaces.

Lack of a physical barrier doesn’t mean that an area is safe. At Yellowstone, for example, it’s impossible to fence off every thermal pool, where waters are as hot as 250 degrees Fahrenheit. In the mountains, going just a few feet off a trail could pose a serious fall risk.

Avoid the temptation to approach, pose with or touch an animal in the wild, no matter how tame it appears. Even small animals can carry disease and inflict significant damage to protect themselves or their young.

Standing too close to railroad tracks for photos can put a person in harm’s way. Do not step onto or get too close to railroad tracks, and keep far away from moving trains, as trains are significantly wider than the rails.

It’s not worth the risk of climbing onto a railing, tree, machinery, potentially loose rocks or a structure for a better vantage point. Never pose children on railings, fences or any other setting that puts them at risk.

Planning for Safety en Route

When planning a bus tour to take those perfect shots, put transportation safety first on your list. Learn about bus safety by visiting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Look Before You Book website (

Take a few minutes to research safety records online before you choose or charter a bus company. The Look Before You Book site lets you search for a bus company, with tips on interpreting their safety records to help inform your booking decision.

Share safety tips with travelers and encourage them to use their safety belts whenever the bus is moving. Most newer buses have passenger safety belts, and all buses built after November 2016 are required by law to have them.

For more pointers on onboard safety, check out the Learn Before You Board Fact Sheet, available in the Travel Planners section of the Look Before You Book website.