Why do warning labels exist?

Warning Labels make for most wonderful jokes on the rainiest days.

Why are they so prolific? What is the need for all of these crazy warning labels? Are these companies just trying to find more things for their staff to do?

And why, most importantly, are these warning labels often so obvious and stupid?

Because someone already did it.

History Warning labels first began in the USA in 1938 when the US Congress pass a law mandating that food products have a list of ingredients on the label. (Seattle Times, 2006). Then from 1966, cigarette packets donned the surgeon general’s warning to health.

There are three types of warning labels:

CAUTION: indicates a potentially hazardous situation that, if not avoided, may result in minor or moderate injury.

WARNING: indicates a potentially hazardous situation that, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury.

DANGER: indicates an imminently hazardous situation that, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury. This word is limited to the use in the most extreme situations.

Here are some great examples of hilarious warning labels:

  • On a jar of peanut butter: May contain nuts.
  • On a bag of Doritos: You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.
  • On A Cup Of Coffee: Caution! Contents are HOT!
  • On a roll of Life Savers: Not for use as a flotation device.
  • On Lychee Jelly: The people under 3 years old or more than 60 years old are forbidden to eat alone.
  • On a box of wine: Do not drink and walk in the road, you may get killed!
  • On a hair dryer: Do not use in shower. Never use while sleeping.
  • On ACT Children’s Oral Rinse: Keep out of reach of children.
  • On the package of an Ace Garden Hose: Do not spray water into an electrical outlet. Severe electrical shock could result.
  • On a lawnmower: Do not place hands or feet under mower when engine is running.
  • On a bottle of Head and Shoulders Shampoo: For external use only.
  • On a disposable razor: Do not use this product during an earthquake.
  • On a calendar: Use of term “Sunday” for reference only. No meteorological warranties express or implied.
  • Labels on a frisbee: May contain small parts.
  • On a portable stroller: Remove infant before folding for storage.
  • On a child sized Superman costume: Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.
  • On an infant’s bathtub: Do not throw baby out with bath water.
  • On a Magic 8 Ball: Not advised for use as a home pregnancy test.
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