Sunday, August 5, 2007

Book review: Remove Child Before Folding

I recently bought a little book I am going to regift* that is called:

Remove Child Before Folding: the 101 stupidest, silliest, and wackiest warning labels ever
by Bob Dirigo Jones

This is a collection of real warning texts from items being sold in the US. They were sent in by people to Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch, a group that is concerned about stupid lawsuits for things that should just have been common sense not to do, or were pure accidents.

The book is funny, of course, but also sad. That companies can't sell safety alarms for hot tubs because the liability insurance costs would be too high, for example. Same with some baby seats that are very safe and common in Europe, but because of the suing-happy American culture they are not being sold here. Some Americans just want to blame everything on someone else, even the rain, the lack of rain, or that they slipped in a puddle. Some bad stuff just happens, you know. I am not talking about the real wrongdoings of course, I am talking about the stupid things, things that can be avoided by some common sense or were just plain accidents. As a result, lots of companies put warning labels on their items to fend off liability suits, probably often after they got sued. So people actually did some of these things and then blamed the company. Here is a selection:

Baby stroller: Remove child before folding.

Iron: Never iron clothes while being worn.

laser printer toner: Do not eat toner.

wood router: This product is not intended for use as a dental drill or in medical applications. (A Texas man tried and sued)

fishing hook: Harmful if swallowed.

Adidas track suit: Please be aware that sliding too fast across indoor floors could cause friction burns where floor, suit, and skin meet.

DVD player: Do not swing from the product or pull it.

Propane torch: Never use while sleeping.

Self-defense pepper spray: May irritate eyes.

* regifting
= when you give away something you got as a gift yourself, not necessarily because you don't like it, but maybe because you think the other person will like it even better, or it is something you already have tried/read/ etc. Recycling in action, really. In this case, I actually bought the book for myself, and now I am giving it away so more people can laugh at this.


PP said...

what is the problem using a torch while sleeping? I don't see a problem...

LS said...

Apparently every hairdryer sold in America has the same warning too -

Do not use while sleeping.

How could you even use it while zzzzzzzzleeping away? Shouldn't it say - don't use while in bed? Or are people standing up in the workshop, using the torch and falling asleep?

Once on a train in Sweden a long time ago I sat next to a person whose job it was to translate sales brochures from Polish (I think) to Swedish, but his Swedish wasn't so good. I helped him with a brochure about campers, but I didn't know the words of some of the details. It was a technical brochure too, with instructions for troubleshooting and such. After that I understood why so many brochures are badly written or translated, and why IKEA use no text at all in their assembly instructions.

O.K. said...

The biggest problem as I see it is that these warnings and disclaimers are put in the manuals side by side with instructions that really matters. That way the user has less chance of deciding which instructions are a must to follow, which are good practice and which are pure lawyer bs.

Example: The manual of a very expensive computer display that H purchased stated: "Do not bend cord". I'd say that somewhat limits the possible placements of the display. :)

I think this is one of the reasons people in general don't read manuals anymore, they are too often badly written, not very informative and diluted with bs.