The very first safety meeting and training you ever had was not at your first job, it was done at home. It was delivered by either mom or dad and could have gone any which way from a nice gentle reminder to a loud shattering awakening as dad smacks you upside your head for being, “so stupid!” I grew up, in what may seem by today’s standards, as dark and medieval as we didn’t have seat belts in cars, didn’t wear helmets when biking, spent most of the day outside without sunscreen, most of our fresh fruits and vegetables came out of cans, had no color television let alone HD, no mobile phones or video games. We communicated on a primitive level, face to face. We were exposed to many things in groups, so we could get each disease, the chicken pox, measles, german measles and mumps, together at the same time. I was a very hyperactive young boy with an enormous curiosity that drove my parents crazy with constant trips to our Doctor, whose office was very fortunately on the ground floor of our apartment building. At least once a week I was there with cuts, fractures, scrapes, for stitches or X-rays and tetanus shots and once, hit by a car.
Through trial and error, many bumps and bruises, observing others, I began to learn what posed a hazard, and developed an ability to see them before they happened. I admit some of the lessons I learned were at the expense of others, like Tom. Tom was a first rate car mechanic and a very good friend of my dad, so he’d allow me to occasionally hang around the garage after school, I was in 5th grade. He was an interesting man, missing 2 fingers from his right hand, that a fan blade removed for him because he wasn’t paying attention. He also was of the rare breed that would wash the grease and grime off his hands with gasoline. “Great stuff” he would tell me, “universal solvent”, even then I knew he was wrong. Tom also smoked unfiltered chesterfields by the pack full and one day, after he cleaned his hands and lit-up, as fate would have it, I got to witness the entire event and believe me, it’s not something that you soon forget.
In Ireland, their research has found that 16% of 3 year olds wind up in hospital from injuries when there are 2 parents and it jumps to 46% for 3 year olds with only 1 parent. Makes sense, when you have an active child it’s much easier to control when there are 2 of you doing the job. (Read more here) Over the years, our society has put many, many policies into place to help protect guys like Tom from themselves and to protect young children from accidents and yet, we still want to put more into place. But is that a smart idea? All parents have the natural urge to want to keep their children in a protective cocoon but does that help them prepare for the real hazards of life? Even with all the new ways to protect children, they are still finding their ways into accidents, so have we done a disservice by not exposing them so they can learn first hand and understand the nature of a hazard and why it’s a hazard? I really don’t know the real answer, to me children need a certain amount of freedom to grow, explore and thrive and yet somehow still protect them from accidents but then, I also believe all the reliance on technology is dumbing us down. Schools are abandoning the teaching of cursive, children can no longer read the hands on a clock, common sense is not as abundant. Very glad to see the U.S. Navy recognized this and is teaching ship navigators how to use a sextant. Always good to know the analog way as a backup. I’m sure everyone has their own opinion on this topic and how to protect their child. With that all said, may I share with you the 15 safety things I learned as a child.
1 – When building your own stairway to heaven, make sure it’s sturdy. Stacking different types of furniture with other household items presents challenges in stability and engineering. Remember, the fall usually looks worse than it really was and sure hope that treat was worth the risk.
2 -You can tell if your dad is a baby boomer by the scar on his forehead. Before backyard trampolines us apartment dwellers used our parents bed as a trampoline for entertainment, to see if we could hit the ceiling but you must be aware coming down, those headboards dispensed many cracked foreheads.
3 – Playing with matches may burn more then you want, especially when you use dad’s lighter fluid and pour it all over your sister’s dollhouse. Wow, that went up fast.
4 – Dad’s double edged razor blades come out of the dispenser really cool but much harder to put back in even if you can hold them steady enough, where’s that blood coming from, didn’t feel anything. Oh wait, It’s me!
5 – Crossing on the green light and only in the crosswalks is not as much fun as dodging out from behind parked cars but apparently most drivers don’t appreciate it or see the humor.
6 -When playing around with your erector set motor for the crane you built, the gears stop turning when your fingers are caught in the gears.
7 – Grabbing handles of items on the stove to pull yourself up to get a better view is not a good idea, especially if they have hot liquids in them.
8 – Electric outlets can be fascinating with those little slits. Can’t quite get the dinner knife in there but dad’s screwdriver on the other hand. Whoa, that felt weird.
9 – Mixing cleansers found under the sink, do not make cleaning twice as easier or faster but can create a deadly poisonous toxic cloud for the whole house to enjoy.
10 -Before you jump from anything, rock, hill, billboard sign, check that there are no boards with nails sticking up waiting for your foot to land.
11 -Running with scissors or any sharp object is not good but even worse when it’s pointed your way.
12 -Plastic bags don’t make for really great masks or astronaut helmets. It’s difficult to breath and keep from passing out.
13 -Drowning was not one of the options I had in mind, especially after lying to everyone how well you can swim.
14 -Cans of goodies came with a key you’d use to wind around the can to remove the band of steel sealing the can. The challenge to getting the key was removing the steel band and did I mention how sharp the steel was. Oh, bleeding again.
15 -Listening to the tracks to see if a train is coming, like in the movies is not the best idea as railroad tracks make for a poor playground.
Join the conversation. No matter what generation you are part of, what safety things did you learn as a child you’d like to share?