How to be Safe
by Guy Browning

It's a dangerous world out there and safety should be our number one priority. Always take a few moments to familiarise yourself with the nearest emergency exits, even when you are travelling by bicycle.

Nature is a born killer -- ice, floods and volcanoes are a continual threat. Even a stiff wind can dessicate you like a coconut. These risks can be much reduced by telling people where you're going and wearing a reflective band.

Stalkers are another modern danger. The person on the other side of this newspaper could have been following you around for years, going through your laundry and opening your letters (okay, they may be married to you, but that's just a good cover).

Driving is incredibly dangerous, as almost all deaths on the road involve a car. If you insist on driving, pre-inflate all airbags, wear a cycle helmet and drive defensively, preferably on the pavement. Whether you have a baby on board or not, have a sticker in the back window as these can substantially reduce the impact of being rear-ended by a 40-ton truck.

In safety terms, it is obviously extremely foolhardy to live on, or anywhere near, the edge. Life is a like a platform -- if you get too close to the edge you're likely to be hit by someone opening their door. Stand well behind the yellow line of life, or preferably in the designated waiting area.

Ideally, wear a cycle helmet and adopt a brace position. Normally, you'd be better off staying at home were it not for the fact that most deaths occur in the home. Remember that water and electricity don't mix, so turn off the lights when you're in the bath and don't buy electricity from your water company. Wear a cycle helmet in the bath.

The average garden shed is chock full of instruments of death. If you buy a lawnmower, insist on airbags, roll-bars and side-impact protection. When mowing, wear a cycle helmet.

All domestic animals are stiff with rabies, tetanus and lasser fever. Keep them under observation for six months before letting them into the house. Remember, too, that animals are essentially savage, and in the wild a hamster is an attack animal. Before petting, wear a chain mail/biological warfare suit.

One of the main risks to life these days is death. By taking a few sensible precautions, this unnecessary risk can be avoided; check the nearest available exits, wear a cycle helmet, and assume the brace position.


© Guy Browning
The Guardian, April 22, 2000

other stories by G Browning