Do not put any person in this washer

by Walter Olson on April 21, 2009

Fox News contributes original reporting on some of the familiar Wacky Warning Labels made famous by Bob Dorigo Jones of Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch in an annual contest and book. It helps track down information, for example, regarding the origin of the warnings not to use a hair dryer while sleeping, not to heat up a cellphone in the microwave oven, not to use a curling iron in the shower, and not to swallow a fishing hook (the latter seems to have more to do with the potential toxicity of the lead in the hook than the hook aspect itself). The warning against the temptation to obtain the light necessary to check a fuel tank by flicking on a cigarette lighter recalls the Burma-Shave jingle of decades ago:

He lit a match/
To check gas tank/
That’s why/
They call him/
Skinless Frank.

Also noted in the article: a warning against using “birthday candles as earplugs ‘or for any other function that involves insertion into a body cavity'”.

{ 7 comments }

1 Soronel Haetir 04.21.09 at 1:06 am

My personal favorite is the chainsaw warning,

Do not attempt to stop chain with hands, feet or genitalia.

2 NMC 04.21.09 at 10:47 am

There is a character in Faulkner named Dollar Watch Snopes because, while his mother was pregnant, his father used a match to look inside a big fuel oil tank at the railroad station and all that was found after the explosion was a dollar watch.

More to the point of your blog, other members of the Snopes family made their livings tying livestock to the railroad tracks to “sell” them to the railroad via justice court suits.

3 Dennis 04.21.09 at 11:38 am

I heep expecting to walk into a gun store and see “Do Not Stand Here” in little letters around the muzzle of a gun.

I sell a line of Tritium dial glow-in -the-dark wristwatches. I describe the safety of the stuff but recommend, “For safety, you should not eat the watch.”

As “The Experts” have noted, no one reads the damnthings, so the warning that “This Widget Will Blow Up and Kill You” gets missed.

Darwinian Stupidity ought to be a sovereign defence against liability.

4 Tom T. 04.21.09 at 11:48 am

The birthday candle ear warning probably comes from the fact that some quacks prescribe burning a candle in your ear to remove ear wax and achieve a variety of other nonsensical good effects.

I have to admit, absent the warning on the machine, I would not have known that clothes with gasoline on them should not go into the washer. I might have twigged to the dryer on my own, but the washer?

5 Chris Hoey 04.21.09 at 12:48 pm

Back in the 60’s, when many former Brooklyn apartment dwellers came to Staten Island to enjoy ownership of their homes, one of them was preparing a snowblower for its 1st use. The instructions were clear, and included a tip, “For best results, use warm gasoline.” The former cave dweller poured a couple of quarts into an open pot, and set it to warming on his gas stove in his brand new kitchen. When the firemen arrived, they found a flattened house, and the neophyte in his underwear standing in the wreckage of his once new home, with a dazed look on his face. He said he was “only following directions!”

6 Jim Collins 04.21.09 at 4:58 pm

I don’t know about gasoline and washing machines, but I do know about gas dryers and jet fuel. When I was in the Navy I put a pair of coveralls that had some JP-5 on them in the wash. There was no problem with the washing machine, but I lost 10 years off my life when the door to the dryer blew open with a loud WOOSH! After that I put Grease Relief in with my laundry detergent to keep it from happening again.

7 Amy Alkon 04.21.09 at 8:19 pm

“Not for use by stupid people” would be my recommendation for all products.

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