How Many Warning Labels Do We Need?

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

I’ve regaled you with tales of my DIY ineptitude before but every once in a while I read something that make me feel a great deal better about my inability to fix things. We’ve been toying with the idea of getting new bathroom fittings in our home and as a result, I’ve spent some valuable time in stores that stock bathroom supplies.

I’m ambivalent to such things. As long as it works I could not care what a tap looks like. You want to impress me? Install a mirror which doubles as a flat screen TV that I can watch while having a beer I the bath. In our quest to find the perfect showerhead we discovered something called an LED showerhead. Knowing that such products exist makes me feel like less of a moron for being DIY-challenged.

On paper it’s a great idea. The showerhead has a range of coloured lights and each one has a different meaning. For example, if the light turns blue, your shower water is still cold. If the light glows red, the water is hot. At what point do we need warning lights to tell us how hot a shower is? Surely steam or lack thereof indicates temperature? Do that many people end up in ICU with burns or hypothermia that letting water run over your hand for a fraction of a second is just too dangerous?

This is the world we live in. You would think that a packet of nuts wouldn’t need a warning label stating that the packet contains nuts, or that the “may cause drowsiness” caution could be omitted from sleeping tablet labels. But this is not the case. I can’t help but feel that we’re breeding a type of human that is incapable of independent, or any, thought.

This is bad for the species. Instead of weeding out the gene pool of people who will attempt to use a pogo stick on treadmill we’re slapping warning labels on everything and ensuring that they’re around long enough to pass on their genes. The species suffers and evidently, businesses do to, particularly in the United States. According to research conducted in 2007 plaintiffs in product liability cases had a 50% success rate, with the average award being approximately $1.9 million. That’s a lot of money to pay out to people who think it’s smart to use a household drill for dentistry or vanishing fabric marker to sign cheques.

I’m not sure what to do about it. I’ve thought of going to stores and removing warning labels that most of us don’t need but realised that I am way to apathetic to put hard work into this. Instead, I give not-so-helpful hints to those who lack common sense:

“Oh, so your going diving with sharks? Be sure to cover yourself in pilchard oil. It prevents sunburn underwater.”

“Rock climbing? You don’t want to slip. You get better grip if you smear your hands in butter.”

“Cycling? The best advice I can give when you’re speeding downhill? Hit the front brakes. Hard.”

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