As an advocate for personal safety, the tools I use most often are awareness of possibilities and appreciation of risk. If you make yourself aware of what could go wrong in a situation, and weigh that against the risks involved, you can make the best choices for your safety. Here are a few items, some of which are designed to improve our safety, that may reduce our awareness of potential problems or risk involved in daily actions.
- Litigation. There are lots of sites that tell you of the stupidest warning labels on things. Like the stroller warning that tells you to make sure there is no child in the stroller before folding it for storage (find this and similar warnings here). As a result things are made safer all the time, and we become less sensitive to failures that could happen. Good that things are made safer, bad that we become less responsible for outcomes.
- Legislation. Safer cars, safer braking, safer restraint systems – all good. OSHA regulations – also good. Thinking that as long as I follow the rules all the laws protect me – not so good. There will never be enough legislation (I hope) to force everything to be idiot-proof. As I’ve heard it said, we are always making better idiots.
- Over-Parenting. How much is too much? Almost every parent finds themselves in a situation where their child is hurt and wonders what they could have done or should have done differently. I didn’t make a point of stepping in the way of my kids for everything they wanted to do that I felt was not totally safe, but I did say “NO” when they wanted to play on a friend’s trampoline, which the parents had placed way too close to the side of their house. Even when you try to prevent something, your child may try it anyway and will then learn that you were correct or that you were just too cautious.
- We’re busy. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of hearing about texting while driving. It’s a bad idea, don’t do it. But in the rush to get through our busy day, it can easily feel like sending this one very important message can be done safely. Busy-ness is not a good excuse for safety shortcuts.
- Convenience. I’ve stood on chairs hundreds of times in my life. But now when I need to clean the ceiling fan or change a ceiling light, I get out the ladder. It takes more time, but it is markedly safer.
We can’t eliminate all risk. But we can learn to do a better job of assessing risk and making choices that will lead to safe outcomes nearly all the time.
Thanks, and let’s be careful out there!
Anna at abdpbt is responsible for the effort to Fight Listless Mondays. Find other list links on her blog. Her lists and the others linked there always give you something to think about, and may even make you smile!