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Mountain lion advice

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Do you need advice on how to react if faced with a mountain lion? And even if you’d read this sign at the start of your walk, would you remember what to do if one of the big cats actually jumped out of the bushes at you?

No cure

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This isn’t a vehicle you’d want to be stuck behind in a traffic jam. And, if you are, you’d better hope that the tailgate is securely closed. After all, can you imagine what sort of a disease without a cure is inside that innocuous-looking container? Fingers crossed, the signwriter just had a sense of humor.

Difficult trail

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Every year across the world, thousands of hikers discover that their confidence has outweighed their stamina, skill, and supplies. This notice on a Tennessee trailhead attempts to dissuade some of the less well-equipped by pointing the length of the onward trek to the next supply station. In case anyone’s in any doubt, it points out that food, water and energy are all essential.

Hitchhikers who aren’t who they say they are

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Your parents probably told you never to pick up hitchhikers. No doubt they also came up with several suggestions as to why this might be a bad idea. Perhaps they might have raised the possibility of picking up an escaped felon. However, it’s a fair chance that this sign is the first time you’ll ever have seen such an official-looking warning.

Lifejackets save lives

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Even if you’re a good swimmer, the lifesaving ability of a lifejacket ought to be a bit of a no-brainer. However, this sign – placed for maximum emphasis in the lake in question – suggests that the critical-thinking skills of some of the lake’s users are not as strong as one might hope.

Seatbelts and Covid

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During the Covid pandemic, we all got used to official injunctions to do our best to relieve pressure on struggling health providers. However, this sign takes matters to another, rather more specific level, suggesting – probably rightly – that people who don’t wear seatbelts end up in ICUs more frequently than those who do.

US Border patrol

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Most people who find themselves in arid border areas facing a long walk to civilization would do almost anything to avoid attracting the attention of border guards. However well-intentioned this sign might be, it’s a fair guess that the red button in question is not well-used.

Saying goodbye

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You’d have to be rather cold-hearted not to feel at least a twinge of sympathy when faced with someone saying good-bye to a beloved pet. This veterinarian clinic took matters one step further with its installation of a light to signify the solemn event. However, the slightly saccharine sign perhaps detracts from the terrifying finality of the occasion.

Guard wolves

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Surely it would be a foolhardy person who broke into a wolf sanctuary. Clearly, however, those in charge of this wolf sanctuary had their doubts. As well as highlighting the security cameras, their warning sign to potential intruders also points out the 20 or more wolves that also patrol the grounds.

Lava Falls death profiles

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The Grand Canyon is probably one of the most dangerous places in the world. Perhaps many of those who visit are a self-selecting group, considering themselves to be fit and adventurous. This cautionary notice reminds them that, if that’s the case, they fit the profile of the typical person who dies or suffers injury at Lava Falls.

Hunting season

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Ah, hunting season! It’s the time of year when guns blast their way through woods and across moorland – making it really very dangerous for anyone who isn’t at the trigger end of a weapon. However, the writer of this handwritten sign has particular concerns for anyone choosing the tramp through the woods at night while wearing a fur suit…..

Black Death

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Even in the era of Covid and not much more than 100 years on from the “Spanish” flu epidemic, it’s hard to imagine a pandemic so severe it killed more than 50% of those who lived in Europe alone. However, as this chastening sign notes, the Black Death was that pandemic.

Ski area boundary

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A skull and crossbones, two stop signs, a reverse arrow and a warning of imminent death: this is one sign that isn’t pulling any punches. Perhaps it’s located in an area that’s seen the death of too many off-piste skiers or perhaps the weather has just been unseasonably bad. Either way, it’s a brave or foolhardy winter sports’ enthusiast who ignores this notice.

Holy water

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It’s possible you’ve had your doubts about the efficacy of holy water. Of course, it’s also possible that you’re a firm believer in its healing powers. Either way, it’s equally possible that you’ve never considered the possibility that some so-called holy water might be a medium for spreading viral illnesses.

Domestic violence

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As anyone who’s ever experienced domestic violence knows, getting help is difficult. It’s especially difficult if your abuser accompanies you everywhere, including to medical appointments. That’s where this sign comes in. Using the red-colored pen to initial your specimen container sends an unspoken message that you need help.

Meth and dental anaesthesia

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You’d probably have guessed that using meth isn’t the wisest leisure activity. However, without reading this sign, would you have known just how dangerous it is to indulge in any form of methamphetamines prior to dental surgery? Apparently, the combination of meth plus dental anaesthesia within the same 12-hour period equals death.

Male-male extension power cord

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Male-male power cord extensions have prongs on each end. Most safety watchdogs agree that they’re dangerous, raising the risk of fire and electrocution. This sign agrees. Unfortunately, it seems that many of the sign-writers’ customers are yet to be convinced – hence the rather stark message.

School lockdown song

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Many of us will have memories of singing school songs. Commonly featuring rousing tunes and inspiring lyrics, they’re the sort of thing we’ll doubtless remember when we’re in our nursing homes. Pity the poor kids, however, whose school song aims to teach them what to do in the event of a lockdown prompted – we imagine – by an active shooter on the premises.

Correcting a friend

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No one likes to be told that they’re wrong. Equally, many people don’t enjoy having to tell someone else that they’re wrong. However, whichever side of the situation you find yourself in, a cutesy cartoon like this one is unlikely to make either party feel more comfortable.

The drowning machine

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This is another notice that doesn’t pull any punches either with its word choice or its diagram. You might think that the foaming water rushing beneath the arches of the bridge is sufficient to warn off anyone fancying a dip. However, clearly, someone didn’t want to take any chances.

Skiing alone

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If you fancy a bit of me-time, a snowy mountainside at night isn’t the place to enjoy it. As this thoughtful sign wants you to realise, all the tech and modern advancements of the last couple of centuries aren’t going to help if you find yourself cold and alone on a mountain after dark.

Crying is not an emergency

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Many parents must have experienced this situation: a kid who begs for a fairground ride and then cries to get off. Clearly, this will also be a familiar scenario to many fairground attendants. Perhaps that’s why someone felt motivated to come up with this cautionary sign.

Shark alert

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Fancy a swim? It’s good to know that lifeguards are ready to respond to 911 shark alert calls. Most of the text on this sign is sensible stuff to help with personal risk assessments. However, some of the small print is less reassuring than the injunction to call 911 might have you believe. Check out the part about staying close to shore for rescue purposes.

Bush fire rating signs

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Uh oh. Can you see the fire? If there isn’t one already, this sign strongly suggests that a major conflagration is imminent. Thank goodness it includes the words “prepare”, “act” and “survive”. Let’s hope that anyone standing in front of the sign knew what preparations and actions to take in order to survive.

No bees

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Given the crucial role that bees play as pollinators for many plants, including many food crops, the science behind these signs is strong. However, we’d have to query whether the message is ever so slightly diluted by its delivery. After all, each sign is apparently thrust into a display of whatever fruit that the sign says will not be available without those bees.

Active diarrhea and swimming

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Some things really don’t mix with swimming and swimming pools. A verruca is one but active diarrhea must come much higher up the alarm scale. In that sense, this sign is spot on. However, it’s perhaps best to ignore the fact that an unpoliced sign may not deter anyone with active diarrhea who is presumably already considering a swim.

Slide closed

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We bet this one made you close your eyes in horror. Of course, the slide is closed. How could this not be the case? And yet, you’ve got to wonder, haven’t you, whether the other side has a similar notice and, more importantly, is equally well sealed off?

View from a waterfall

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What’s not to like about the idea of taking in the panorama from a waterfall? Whether you’re walking a rocky path overlooking the falls or actually venturing behind it, the view is sure to be splendid. Unfortunately, of course, any path or rocks close to a waterfall may be catastrophically slippery with water and, as this sign notes, also with water-loving plants.

Enter at your own risk

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It’s like all your childhood nightmares come to life. Whatever it was that kept you up at night and had your parents peering in closets and under beds, it’s apparently lurking in the woods beyond this ever-so-slightly ambiguous sign. We can only guess that the landowner in question is really not keen on taking responsibility for untoward events in these woods.

Radio station for a nuclear power alert

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What would you do in the event of a siren warning of an imminent nuclear power emergency? Why, yes, you would turn to your trusty radio and tune it to 97.3 FM. Let’s hope that the radio station located at that frequency will be issuing much needed advice and not playing dance music or running a phone-in to win a pizza.

Missing snake

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Look away now if you have ophidiophobia. Fear of snakes is common but mostly easy to rationalise. After all, even in a zoo, you’re unlikely to come across a snake coiled on the back of your chair in the café or slipping over a path. However, apparently this is a risk at the Bronx Zoo, where an only “mildly venomous” snake has disappeared.

Hiking trail health warning

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It seems that enjoying the great outdoors comes with more health warnings than the average construction site. Tackling this trail is apparently akin to climbing a ten storey building ten times. It’s unclear what the sign means by “health issues” but perhaps the sign-writers feel their responsibility ends here and are content for prospective hikers to undertake their own risk assessment.

Peggy’s Cove lighthouse


It’s a pretty name for a lighthouse. However, by definition, lighthouses stand in dangerous areas. And, as this sign makes clear, it isn’t only ships and sailors that fall foul of storms and the sea. The message to enjoy the sea from a safe distance is a prudent one and, hopefully, one taken to heart by anyone who sees this sign in person.

Lion enclosure

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Would you linger in front of this lion enclosure? Would you even remain on the premises any longer than it took to sweep up your kids and run to the exit? We’ll have to assume that those responsible for visitor health and safety at this zoo do, in fact, know their stuff and that this shattered glass won’t enable several lions to make their escape.

Alaskan bears

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There’s so much that this sign doesn’t tell us. Although seemingly located in Alaska, we don’t know, for instance, what this is a door to or why there’s a risk of a bear trying to get in. However, in the absence of answers to those intriguing questions, we’ll settle for relief that this isn’t the door to our workplace or home.

Sensitive elevator

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Who knew elevators had feelings? Whether this one is tired and over-wrought or just a little unbalanced, the result is the same: no one will want to travel in it. Next to the prospect of an unscheduled plummet to the bottom of an elevator shaft, we bet that a staircase has never looked so enticing!

Staying safe in bear country

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Manitoba’s advice for staying safe in bear country is succinct: if attacked, fight back. Perhaps it’s a deliberate omission that this sign doesn’t mention the type of bear you’d be fighting. Manitoba is polar bear country, and the polar bear is the largest, heaviest and hungriest of all the bears. Fight back? You might have more luck just praying.

Thermal pool amoeba

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What could be nicer and more relaxing than a wallow in a thermal pool! Even if it does smell of sulfur, the heat and the minerals will be wonderful for your skin and general well-being. Then there’s the nose-going amoeba. Wait, what? Yes, a possible side effect of this swim is a serious infection and death. Clearly, it’s the ultimate in relaxation.

Abandoned mine

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Perhaps this mine is in a very remote location that gets almost no visitors. Even so, it seems like something of a health and safety oversight to have just a small sign affixed to some broken fencing as a deterrent to anyone tempted to explore the dark depths of this abandoned mine.

Hamish and his horns

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Highland cattle look fabulous on postcards and Instagram grids. They’re not bad in person either and, if you’re so inclined, they also make excellent beef and a rug that’s a real eye-catcher. What you don’t want, however, is to get up close and person with those horns. Not grabbing them, as the sign cautions against, seems like rather a Darwinian command.