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When Advice is Obvious but Not Frivolous
by Tom Goodman
June 3, 2009

There's a portable toilet seat for outdoorsmen called "The Off-Road Commode" because it is designed to attach to a vehicle's trailer hitch.

The warning label reads, "Not for use on moving vehicles."

I'll let you pause a moment in your reading to imagine someone ignoring the advice.

That was the winning entry in this year's Wacky Warning Label Contest.  The annual contest is meant turn a spotlight on how lawsuits and the fear of lawsuits have driven companies to spend millions on common-sense warnings.

Here's a list of some of the best labels from previous contests:

A label on a baby stroller warns: 
"Remove child before folding."
A flushable toilet brush warns: 
"Do not use for personal hygiene."
A digital thermometer that can be used to take a person's temperature several different ways warns: 
"Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally."
A household iron warns users: 
"Never iron clothes while they are being worn."
A label on a hair dryer reads: 
"Never use hair dryer while sleeping."
A warning on an electric drill made for carpenters cautions: 
"This product not intended for use as a dental drill."
The label on a bottle of drain cleaner warns: 
"If you do not understand, or cannot read all directions, cautions and warnings, do not use this product."
A cardboard car sunshield that keeps sun off the dashboard warns: 
"Do not drive with sunshield in place."
A cartridge for a laser printer warns: 
"Do not eat toner."
A heat gun and paint remover that produces temperatures of 1,000 degrees warns: 
"Do not use this tool as a hair dryer."
A warning on a pair of shin guards manufactured for bicyclists says: 
"Shin pads cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover."
A popular manufactured fireplace log warns: 
"Caution - Risk of Fire."
A label on the underside of a cereal bowl warns: 
"Always use this product with adult supervision."

It makes you laugh and shake your head at the same time.  But while all of these advisories are obvious and unnecessary, some advice can be obvious and still necessary.  What we find in the biblical book of Proverbs falls in that second category:  Its wisdom isn't frivolous even though it's common-sense.  We have two more weeks in our sermon series, "Bumper-Sticker Wisdom."  Join us @ 10 this Sunday!


Weblog:  Check out my blog, "Get Anchored."  Some things to look for...

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