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Warning Labels and Warning Signs Don't Warn


A: How many times do you hear warnings about what you should and shouldn't do? After looking at warning labels and signs all day, we become desensitized to the warnings and they lose their importance. Walking in the airport we see signs saying "Hold handrail while going up escalator." At the ice skating rink we see signs that say "Slippery, use caution." On our medication bottles we read "Warning-may cause harm if not taken as directed." On our laptop computers, cell phones, and digital cameras we see signs on the batteries that say "Warning-do not dispose in open fire." What are these warnings supposed to do? Warn us of dangers to specific activity. Does it work? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Think about the last time you really paid attention to such a warning. Did you read the fine print when you were given a prescription bottle- the entire warning packet? Admit it- if you're like most people, you didn't. Or, how about this one, "Warning, don't operate heavy machinery if taking narcotic sedatives." Why are these warnings necessary? Mainly because some folks don't use their common sense when going about their daily lives. Almost each warning we see and hear about arises from some incident involving someone who got hurt by not being careful. "Don't drink the gasoline if you are siphoning gas from one tank to another." Do we really need all these warnings? Does the warning above really alert us to the inherent dangers associated with drinking gasoline? Isn't it common sense not to drink gasoline? I'd like to think so, but some would disagree. The other day there was a horrible tragedy involving an 8 year old boy from Queens, New York, who was playing with a barbeque lighter in his home. You know what happened. He thought it was a toy and was making little fires under his bed. Three of his brothers died along with his grandfather. All because he thought the lighter was a toy. Do you really think a warning that said "Danger- keep away from children," would have prevented this tragedy? Unlikely. Or this warning, "Danger, don't touch open flame, you could get burned." Unfortunately, warnings do not replace common sense. It also goes without saying that nothing replaces constant vigilance of your children. Veteran New York personal injury attorney Gerry Oginski recently observed a sign at a hotel that said "There is no substitute for parental supervision." "The warnings that we see every day don't have much significance when we're inundated with them from every direction. We become desensitized to the dangers and warnings in our daily lives," notes Gerry Oginski. Paying close attention to our kids and our own actions helps minimize the dangers we face in our lives every day. So be careful this holiday season.