| Odds & Ends

Some inventions are entertaining, some are useful, and others are simply lifesaving. In honor of Women’s History Month this March, we’re taking the time to celebrate lifesaving inventions created by fearless women from around the world. Join us as we show off the skills and products of six talented women who did their best to make the world a safer place for everyone.

#1: Mary Walton

Mary Walton was on top of the carbon footprint game before global warming even put on its shoes. In 1879, this fantastic female patented a system that reduced air pollution from industrial smokestacks, a system that was later utilized in residential chimneys, locomotives, and automobiles. Her device diverted emissions into water tanks so that the pollutants could be reused and recycled, or disposed of in the city’s sewage system.

#2: Anna Connelly

The next time you look at the escape plan for your 12th-floor apartment building, you should thank Anna Connelly for a way to get down in case of an emergency. While many people in the 1800s had no option for escaping a fire (besides jumping out a window), Anna saw a need that had to be met! So, she invented the outdoor fire escape. Not only did this invention prove to be a life-saver, but it later became a public safety measure that was mandated by law. In 1887, she literally bridged the gap between life and death for those in need of an escape route!

#3: Margaret Wilcox

Maneuvering the steering wheel can be tough when your fingers and hands are really cold. You could have trouble gripping the wheel or reacting quickly to changing road conditions. Margaret Wilcox aimed to fix this winter safety hazard. Margaret, a mechanical engineer, invented the first car heater in 1893. It helped keep windows fog-free and drivers’ fingers and toes warm. While her version pulled hot air from the engine to heat up the frozen toesies of 19th-century drivers, we’re thankful that today’s heat is a little more eco-friendly. (She should’ve chatted with Mary Walton).

#4: Maria Beasley

You can think of Maria Beasley as the Titanic’s life raft—literally. Maria was the brains behind the life raft in 1882, which actually did save a number of lives in the treacherous sinking of the ship. It’s also become mandatory for most seafaring vessels, only to be improved with time and the invention of other materials. Speaking of materials…

#5: Stephanie Kwolek

In 1965, American chemist Stephanie Kwolek invented one of the strongest synthetic fibers to date: Kevlar. The material is stronger than steel and while it was originally meant to be used in car tires, it is now used to protect service men and women, law enforcement agents, and security personnel around the world. No bulletproof vest or piece of body armor is complete without it! Kwolek was the only female employee to receive a medal at DuPont (where she worked) for outstanding technical achievement. She was also the 4th woman to be added to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Girl power!

#6: Mary Anderson

When Birmingham, AL native Mary Anderson visited New York in 1903, she didn’t get to see as much of the Big Apple as she had hoped. Why? Because the snowy weather prevented her from seeing out the windows of her trolley car! Other motorists, she noticed, were having problems too. Drivers were sticking their heads or hands out of car windows in order to wipe snow off of their windshields. For Mary, this simply wouldn’t do. When she invented windshield wipers in 1903, most people actually thought that it was safer to drive while snow and rain poured down into their view. Thankfully, her invention eventually caught on – Cadillac was the first company to include windshield wipers on every car model, and many other automakers soon followed suite.

Now that you’ve said, “Yes, we can!” to everything life has to offer, it’s time to make the world a better place in your own way! If you’re all out of ideas, you could start by doing your best to be a safe driver, one blinker at a time. You don’t have to be a famous inventor to do it. Just drive carefully, follow the speed limit, use those windshield wipers, and maybe always carry a snack in the car (Fact: being hangry could lead to distracted driving.) Being a safe driver makes the roads a better place for everyone, and could even save you money with a safe driver discount from Direct Auto & Life Insurance.

**Direct General Group, Nashville, TN. Rates vary. Cost may vary based on how you buy. Discounts may only apply to certain coverages and are subject to terms and conditions.

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