Faux Pas

Warning: These Warnings Warn About Worrying Warnings

In an earlier article, we discussed the reason for the lengthy warnings that always show up at the end of pharmaceutical commercials. That did not answer the question, however, about why some odd and seemingly-unnecessary warnings appear on everyday products. Is it really necessary for an automobile’s full-window sunshield to carry the caution, “Do not drive with sun visor in place”?

We could go into a long, complicated explanation about product liability law. It is much easier and entertaining, however, to list the following product warnings and remind you that every one of them was likely added after a dissatisfied customer called up to complain.

Or, as a more cynical person might say, “I’m not saying we should kill all the stupid people; I’m just suggesting we remove all the warning labels and let nature take care of things.”

  • Bialetti Casa Italiana’s nonstick cooking pans: “Keep pet birds out of the kitchen when using this product.”
  • Duraflame fireplace log: “Caution—Risk of Fire.”
  • Jabra Drive ‘N’ Talk: “Never operate your speakerphone while driving.”
  • Kellogg’s Cereal Bowl: “Always use this product with adult supervision.”
  • Popcorn Rock novelty garden set: “Eating rocks may lead to broken teeth.”
  • In an information booklet: “Do not use if you cannot see clearly to read the information in the information booklet.”
  • On a compact disc player: “Do not use the Ultradisc 2000 as a projectile in a catapult.”
  • Apple’s iPod Shuffle: “Do not eat.”
  • Hilton Head cocktail napkins (displaying a map of Hilton Head): “Not to be used for navigation.”
  • Holmes Bathroom Heater: “This product is not to be used in bathrooms.”
  • Birthday card for 1-year-old: “Not suitable for children aged 36 months or less.”
  • On a propane blowtorch: “Never use while sleeping.”
  • Nytol One-A-Night sleeping pills: “May cause drowsiness.”
  • Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush: “Do not use for personal hygiene.”
  • On a box of rat poison: “Warning: Has been found to cause cancer in laboratory mice.”
  • Midol Menstrual Complete: “Ask a doctor before use if you have difficulty urinating due to an enlarged prostate.”
  • Huebsch Washing Machine: “Do not put any person in this washer.”
  • MDW Outdoor Group’s fox/bobcat urine powder: “Not for human consumption.”
  • On an air conditioner: “Avoid dropping air conditioners out of windows.”
  • Rowenta’s irons: “Do not iron clothes on body.”
  • Chainsaw: “Do not hold wrong end of chainsaw.”
  • On a vacuum cleaner: “Do not use to pick up anything that is currently burning.”
  • DremelMultipro rotary tools: “This product is not intended for use as a dental drill.”
  • New Holland’s small tractors: “Avoid death.”
  • Frankel’s Costume Superman costume: “This costume does not enable flight or super strength.”
  • On a bottle of hair coloring: “Do not use as an ice cream topping.”
  • On a curling iron: “Warning: This product can burn eyes.”
  • On a cardboard sunshield for a car: “Do not drive with sunshield in place.”
  • On children’s clothing: “Remove child before washing.”
  • On a toner cartridge: “Do not eat toner.”
  • On a toilet bowl cleaning brush: “Do not use orally.”
  • Jet Ski: “Never use a lit match or open flame to check fuel level.”
  • On a pair of shin guards: “Shin pads cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover.”
  • Vidal Sassoon hair dryer: “Do not use while sleeping.”
  • On a portable stroller: “Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage.”
  • Razor Scooter: “This product moves when used.”
  • On a plastic, 13-inch wheelbarrow wheel: “Not intended for highway use.”
  • Blow torch gas bottle: “Contents may catch fire.”
  • On a laser pointer: “Do not look into laser with remaining eye.”
  • In a microwave oven manual: “Do not use for drying pets.”
  • Egg container: “This product may contain eggs.”
  • In the instructions for a digital thermometer: “Do not use orally after using rectally.”

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