December 15, 2007

"Wacky" Warnings

[Posted by Crabby]

So you may have seen them already, but the annual "Wacky Warning" awards have been announced! (Unfortunately Healthbolt beat us to it, not being quite as slacky about the wacky.)

What are the awards about? Well, these are the often hilarious product warnings designed to protect imbeciles from hurting themselves. And there are plenty of them, because manufacturers have been traumatized by losing too many ridiculous lawsuits, and stick them on to everything. (Apparently even imbeciles can hire smart lawyers).

Some of this year's winners: a label on an iron-on T-shirt transfer that says: "Do not iron while wearing shirt."

Also, a baby stroller with what looks to be about an eight inch square storage pouch that warns: "Do not put child in bag."

And a letter opener that says: "Caution: Safety goggles recommended."

Previous awards are great too. A pair of shin guards with the warning: “Shin pads cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover.” Or, a cartridge for a laser printer with: “Do not eat toner.” And how about the label on the kid's scooter that cautions: "This product moves when used!"

You've probably seen other warnings yourself and marveled. The advisory (also a past winner) against using hair dryers while asleep was widely distributed--notice you still see these a lot? Do large numbers of people really sleepwalk into the bathroom and start styling their hair? And would a warning really help them at that point if they're asleep?

Or even more scary, perhaps there are people actually stupid enough to think: "Gosh, I just showered but now I'm sleepy. I don't want to go to bed with wet hair and wake up tomorrow looking like a giant mushroom... Hmm, perhaps I'll plug in my hairdryer, set it on my pillow, and then go to sleep all night with it on?"

The mind boggles.

Another personal favorite: at the retirement community where the Lobster's mother lives, all the trash dumpsters sternly caution residents not to "play on or around." Reading the sign, it's hard not to envision the 80 year old residents tossing aside their walkers and leaping into the dumpsters and jumping off the sides, just for a lark!

But as fun as these awards are, there were a couple of annoying things about them.


(Which should be a Warning Winner, because this is Cranky Fitness, and it goes without saying!)

First off: the grand prize winner wasn't all that stupid! It was a tractor with a warning not to leave the seat without lowering the big shovel thing first and turning of the engine. Otherwise, apparently it can crash down and crush you. Well... that actually seems like something a hurried or only moderately half-assed construction worker might be tempted to do. What got it the award? It was the title above the explanation: "Avoid Death!"

Well, yeah, if that was the entire content of the warning, it would be really stupid. (Or, really smart, depending on how you think about it). But it wasn't--it was right above the instructions on how to do just that. "Avoid death" just doesn't seem all that "wacky" when you're screwing around with construction equipment. It is the opinion of at least one half of Cranky Fitness that the tractor warning did not deserve first place.

And the second complaint? The name.

"Wacky Warnings." Yuck. (And the subtitle of the companion book: is "The 101 Stupidest, Silliest and Wackiest Warning Labels Ever!")

Can we just stipulate that "Wacky" is a dumb word? The word "wacky" is itself usually a warning: it's often used by copywriters pumping up stuff that's awful, or people who just naturally have a lame sense of humor. Unless you enjoy circus clowns and fart jokes and people slipping on banana peels, it's generally best to avoid "wacky."

"Zany" is awful too. At least they didn't say "zany."

Anyway, the sad thing is, for every dumb warning you see, you know there's usually some reason it got there. Like at the zoo, "please don't climb over fence into Tiger Cage?" Yeah some idiot, (more than one actually) did that and got chewed up. (The Giant Panda cage too, 'cause they look so cuddly. They're not.)

So have a great, safe weekend, don't go climbing into any wild animal cages--and don't say Cranky Fitness didn't warn you!


  1. The Bag Lady vaguely remembers (a few years ago) reading somewhere that one company stopped producing ladders because there wasn't enough room on the ladder to print all the warnings!! WTF ever happened to common sense?

    Have you noticed lately that every appliance you buy now has an inch thick instruction booklet because of all the warnings, and that it takes half an hour to get to the quarter page of instructions?

    The Bag Lady's current favourite is a foot bath with the warning "Do not stand in foot bath - use only while seated" In other words, don't be soaking your feet while watching your favourite sport on TV - you might forget yourself and leap to your feet, splitting open the foot bath and electrocuting yourself!

    This warning is also on a paraffin wax bath that the Bag Lady recently purchased. Huh?
    One would assume someone was stupid enough to do this?! (It's HOT on the bottom, dumbass!!)

  2. I was going to comment on wacky warnings, but I got distracted by the thought of a paraffin wax bath. Huh? Bag lady, what do you wash in paraffin wax? Your skis?

  3. Hmm, paraffin wax foot baths--maybe it's so cold in Canada in the winter that people typically wax the bottom of their feet so they can ski whenever they want?

    I'm with you, Mary, it's a mystery. But then my foot hygiene is limited to showers and the occasional toenail clipper once-over.

    And paraffin is a hard word to spell isn't it?

  4. Sheesh, haven't you gals ever had a pedicure or manicure? They dip your hands or feet in warm paraffin wax, cover with plastic bags and mitts and let it soften and moisturize your skin! Feels absolutely wonderful - very relaxing, and your skin feels great afterward. The Bag Lady thought you West Coast gals would be up on all the latest stuff...
    (one thing the Bag Lady has discovered, though, is that it really isn't all that easy to do alone...hard to get that second plastic bag on your other say nothing of the mitt...and turning pages on the book you're trying to read is out of the question...)

  5. Darn, that sounds very sensible. I'd prefer to think you were skiing barefoot, though then I'd feel obligated to warn you about frostbite.

    And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Bag Lady!

  6. Oooh, that sounds like something I should ask for on my Christmas list:

    Dear Santa,

    1 paraffin foot bath, with sock-thingies for both feet
    1 paraffin hand bath, with mitt-thingies for both hands
    1 minion to turn the pages (or read out loud while I lean back with my eyes closed feeling totally pampered and cosseted)

    Oh, and 1 minion to feed me fancy chocolates while this is going on.

    And happy birthday Bag Lady!

  7. Thanks for the birthday wishes, girls!!

  8. I hate the word wacky. Zany is ok to me only if it is used in a ridiculously dry sarcastic way.

    "do not put child in bag?" THat cracked me up! What about the kid unsnapping the bag and running around with it on their head. (I'm not speaking from experience or anything)

  9. Hey Crabby,

    I might have beaten you to the punch by posting about the Wacky Warnings first, but you summed up the concept of wacky warnings so much better than I.

    Think I'm gonna to learn a lot about writing from you.

    Cheers from New Zealand and (Healthbolt


  10. Katieo, I can just picture you at the mall chasing down one of your adorable kids with a bag on his head... it's well, kinda zany!

    And Liz, thanks so much for stopping by! You guys are doing a great job with the site, it's always informative and entertaining. Glad to see that Sara left Healthbolt in such good hands.

  11. (The previous comment was written with my Vanishing Fabric Marker)

  12. Man, I needed a good laugh. Thanks. LOVED the bit about 80 year olds playing in the trash. Way too funny. Ok, back to work after my much needed blog surf break :)

  13. Some of those are just plain stupid! I agree, the "winner" is actually not weird at all. How drunk or stoned does a person have to be to climb a fence into a wild animal cage?

    Mary, you need to run a contest to get ideas for a (oh, I could be pedantic here) new cooler name.

  14. Hey Reb,

    I like the idea of a contest. Except -- shouldn't a contest offer a Fabulous Prize, like a weekend somewhere warm and tropical, with white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters? Not sure that's in the budget :(

  15. Ah, well, there's always the prestige attached to being clever enough to come up with a fabulous new name for Mary...

    The article about the fools climbing into the wild animal cages reminded the Bag Lady of the Japanese tourist in Banff or Jasper (National Parks in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta) caught smearing honey on his child's face so he would appeal to a bear. He thought the bear would lick it off and he could have a really a cool photograph to take home... Fortunately, someone stopped him before the bear got to his child. No cool photograph, but at least he still had a child to take home...

  16. Now that's a scary story. Clearly this guy read waaay too many of the Winnie the Pooh books when he was young. Literature is great, but it's no substitute for a little healthy paranoia.

    And I like the idea of winning fame, glory, and prestige for thinking up a new name!

  17. I still giggle when I buy a hairdrier as it always says "do not use in the bathtub or shower"

    If you need to put such silly labels on things... well ...shouldn't the people who need them just sort of be weeded out by them?
    I think both wacky and zany are that record scratch sound they use in movie trailers...

  18. I realize I'm way late to the party, but there's a label on the inside of my winter coat warning me that while the reflective material on it will assist in me being found should I be buried in an avalanche, it will NOT prevent an avalanche. Gee thanks.

  19. Anonymous, I just have to say that's the best one yet.

    Now I want the brand of jacket that CAN prevent avalanches!


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