Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life

Jason Hanson, author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life.
Safety and survival techniques to keep your family protected
Issues: Picking locks; essential items to carry at all times; know when you’re being followed and how to lose your tail; preventing home invasions, carjackings, and kidnappings; traveling safely no matter where you are.

My Progressive Drive Safe Today Day Pledge

hospital ER sign - publicdomainpictures-net

stop sign - from photos-public-domain-comI’ll admit it: Before I had kids, I drove like a maniac. Yellow lights meant “floor it” and red lights and stop signs were often optional. I spent my junior year of college living in France and got a job with a cousin of mine driving all over Paris making deliveries. One of his favorite lines was that he’d never get into a car with me without a second pair of underwear.

Not surprisingly, I was pulled over plenty of times and did get into a few accidents, although, amazingly, only one of them was my fault (I was driving down San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley on a gorgeous, sunny day, got distracted by an equally gorgeous girl in an outrageously short skirt, and rear-ended the guy in front of me. I tried to blame the accident on her, but the cop just rolled his eyes). Miraculously, I never killed or injured anyone.

speedometer - photos-public-domain-comBut I still remember where I was when the realization hit me (better a realization than another vehicle) that I had to make some changes. My first child was due in a few weeks and I had responsibilities—people needed me to be alive.

zoe at ERIn the years since that little epiphany, I haven’t had a ticket and have been involved in only one accident: Some jerk (maybe a young me) ran a red light and t-boned me, then drove off. My car was totaled and my youngest daughter and I were carted off in an ambulance. In yet another minor miracle, with the exception of my back still being in near constant pain, both of us have fully recovered. Chalk up another victory for seatbelts and sheer luck.

progressive drive safe logoBecause two of my three kids are driving and the third is just a few short years away from getting behind the wheel of a car, I’m taking a pledge to be a better driver. I know that’s a phrase that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But for me, it simply means paying more attention to safety and the basic things I can do to make our roads safer for my kids and yours. So no texting or checking email or using GPS or making phone calls—even if I’m just sitting at a red light. No fishing around on the floor for something I dropped. That’s a lot of Nos.

On the Yes side, I pledge to cut other drivers some slack. The woman who cut in front of me so rudely? The kid who nearly sideswiped me? The old guy who was going 45 in the fast lane? Instead of flipping them off or leaning on the horn, I’ll take a few deep breaths and, like Queen Elsa in Frozen, I’ll just let it go. I can’t control how other people drive, only how I react to it. And sitting behind the wheel of a 2,000+ pound weapon, the potential to do instant, permanent damage is huge.

hospital ER sign - publicdomainpictures-net

I invite you to join Progressive and me on September 3rd, 2015, for Drive Safe Today Day. Take the pledge to make the roads safer. Learn more about the initiative by liking Progressive on Facebook and following @Progressive on Twitter. Stay alert, focused and calm while you’re on the road—and help as many people as you can do the same. To paraphrase Smokey Bear (who said, “Only you can prevent forest fires”), only you can make our roads safe. The life you save could be your own—or your child’s.


This post was written in partnership with Progressive Insurance. I have been compensated, but the thoughts and ideas are my own. For additional driving safety tips, check out Progressive’s Drive Safe Today Day program.



Water Safety:

water safety

water safetyDear Mr. Dad: My 4-year old twins are crazy about swimming or floating or doing pretty much anything in and around water. On one hand, I’m thrilled. I swam in high-school and college and I’m looking forward to having them follow in my footsteps. On the other, I’m scared. I’m a stay-at-home mom and there is no way I can keep an eye on them every second. How do we make our house water safe?

A: You’re absolutely right to be scared. Keeping an eye on one child is hard enough. The fact that they outnumber you and can head off in different directions makes your situation especially challenging.

Being in the water, whether we’re swimming, wading, or just splashing around can be wonderful fun, especially for little kids. But those same activities—and anything else you could possibly do around water—can be extremely dangerous. Every year, about 375 children under 15 drown each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). About 280 are under five, and 95 percent of those deaths happen in swimming pools. Another 4,100 children under five end up in hospital emergency rooms every year after what the CPSC euphemistically calls “non-fatal submersion incidents.”  Sometimes the result is permanent brain damage.

The only way to keep children from drowing or being injured around water is to keep them far, far away from it. But that’s just not practical. Nevertheless, there are a few things you can do to reduce the risks. Here are some general guidelines. We’ll get to specific pool-related steps after that.

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Road Safety: Setting a Good Example for Your Kids as a Good Driver

Remember way back to drivers’ ed and that long checksheet you had to go through before even starting the car? (Adjust all the mirrors? check. Put your seatbelt on? check. All passengers properly situated> check.) These days we just get in the car and go without thinking twice (or maybe even once) about the little things that keep us safe when we’re on the road.

Every year there are millions of car accidents, many of which are brought to you by driver who aren’t paying attention. Doing a safety check takes only a few minutes and it’s well worth it. We may think that we’re focused on the job at hand when we’re behind the wheel, but we’re often a lot more distracted than we know. For that reason, it’s never a bad idea to take a look at our habits and see whether there are any ways to improve our safety on the road.

Staying safe is everyone’s responsibility, but not everyone takes that job as seriously as they should. And even when they (and we) do, momentary lapses in judgment still happen.

1. Buckle Up
Maybe the easiest ways to improve safety is to wear your seatbelt. Yes, this seems like common sense, but as we’re backing out of our driveways or pulling out of our morning coffee stop, it’s easy to forget. A huge percentage of accidents happen in parking lots or very close to where at least one of the participants lives. Yes, they’re often pretty low speed, but without seatbelts, there’s still a lot of potential for serious injury. So before you put your car in drive, make sure everyone is buckled up.

2. It can wait
The number of accidents attributable to distracted driving is growing every year–and so is the number of fatalities. As a result, lawmakers around the country are coming up with new legislation designed to limit the use of mobile devices while in the car. Support the “no texting and driving” initiative by using a magnetic sign to show your support of the campaign. This also helps remind other drivers how dangerous it is to take your eyes off the road for even a second.

3. They’re watching our every move
Set a good example for your kids to help improve safety for the next generation of drivers. Technology will only increase how much activity can be performed while driving, so it’s important to let your young ones know that inattentive driving is dangerous. This includes not just texting, but messing with the radio dials or even using your hands-free phone devices while driving. Make your calls, enter addresses into your GPS, and send your texts while you’re parked.

4. It can wait–again
How many times a day do you check for email or texts or look up something on Google or Facebook? Those things are all fine and dandy when we’re sitting at home or at the office or standing in line at the post office. But when we’re moving a two-ton chunk of metal down the road, they’re anything but fine. So stand for road safety and make sure your kids see you doing it. The life you save could be theirs.

50 Dangerous Things to Do with Your Kids

Gever Tulley, author of of 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do.
Topic: Teaching your children about safety by helping them learn to manage risk.
Issues: Exciting ways for your children (and you) to explore the world around them; melting glass, walking a tightrope, tasting electricity, throwing things out of moving cars, deconstructing appliances, and more.

Dangerous Things to Do with Your Kids + Team Building with Duct Tape + Doing the Right Thing at the Right Time

Gever Tulley, author of of 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do.
Topic: Teaching your children about safety by helping them learn to manage risk.
Issues: Exciting ways for your children (and you) to explore the world around them; melting glass, walking a tightrope, tasting electricity, throwing things out of moving cars, deconstructing appliances, and more.

Tom Heck, author of Duct Tape Teambuilding Games.
Topic: Fun activities to help your team—and your family—stick together.
Issues: Using team-building games and experiential learning to teach leadership, trust, cooperation, creativity, problem solving, and confidence.

John Bradshaw, author of Reclaiming Virtue[.
Topic: How we can develop the moral intelligence to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason.
Issues: The meaning of “inborn moral intelligence” and how we can cultivate it; how we can awaken in our children the desire to be good people; why our attempts to teach virtue fail so often; using movies and other cultural references to teach kids about virtue.