Warning: Do not read while asleep

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2005

It’s funny how my mind sometimes operates.

I was drawing a big, old blank when attempting to jog my brain for a topic for this week’s column. Then, at the end of Monday night’s CBS evening news, the proverbial light bulb was switched on.

In a funny bit dealing with hilarious product warning labels, I nearly fell out of my chair in laughter as the news anchor revealed a pair of rib-ticklers. The first dealt with one of those new-fangled bathroom bowl cleaners, the one with the log, curved handle and a disposable sponge on the end. Its warning label read: &uot;Do not use for personal hygiene.&uot;

Number two was some sort of new fangled mode of transportation for young folks – basically a skateboard with an extended steering device. Its label warned riders, &uot;Product moves while in use.&uot;

Are all consumers nowadays as stupid as I think they are or has our society evolved into one where manufacturers are scared stiff that if they fail to state the obvious, then they are targets for huge lawsuits.

Whatever the case may be, it got me thinking about what other type of dumb labels are out there, just waiting to evoke a laugh. My search revealed the following:

On an electric hair dryer – Keep away from water.

Included on the label of a Japanese made food processor – Not to be used for anything else.

Listed on the side of an electric iron – Never iron clothes on the body.

Honest to goodness, I found two warning labels glued to the handle of an upright vacuum cleaner – (1) Do not use to pick-up gasoline or flammable liquids, and, (2) Do not use to pick-up anything that is currently burning.

Found on the side of a 35mm camera – Camera only works with film inside.

The winner of the &uot;I’m Glad This Information Is Listed&uot; award goes to those little bags of peanuts handed out on an airline flight. The words printed are simple – Open Bag, Eat Nuts.

Believe it or not, but TV dinners also carry a warning label. They are twofold in nature; (1) Dinner must be heated before eating, and, (2) After heating, product will be hot.

Labels can also be used as a gimmick to purchase a product. For example, I saw this in the grocery store, printed on a bag of potato chips, &uot;You may be a winner. No purchase necessary. Details inside.&uot;

This label was printed on the box of a 500-piece puzzle – &uot;Some assembly required.&uot;

We’ve all seen this one on a lawnmower, but it’s still funny to share – &uot;Do not attempt to remove blade while mower is running.&uot;

The ultimate warning can be found on a can of hairspray – &uot;Do not smoke until hair is dry.&uot;

Listed on the side of a liquid drain-opener product – &uot;Do not reuse container to store beverages.&uot;

As a public service, soft drink companies list this warning on their bottles – &uot;Contents under pressure. Cap may blow off, causing eye or other serious injury. Point bottle away from face or people, especially when opening.&uot;

Not to be outdone, beer companies are also warning consumers of their products – &uot;Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.&uot; (I swear I read that label off a can of beer in the grocery store, not while relaxing in my recliner.)

On a disposable lighter – &uot;Use product away from face.&uot;

Found on a box of matches – &uot;Contents are flammable, may catch fire.&uot;

Printed on a rain gauge – &uot;Suitable for outdoor use.&uot;

On a bottle of aspirin – &uot;Do not take if allergic to aspirin.&uot;

Warnings can also be found on those annoying little boxes that often pop-up on a computer screen. My all-time favorite is….Keyboard not detected, Press F1 to continue.

Not limiting myself to funny warning labels, I found this in the instruction manual of my telephone here at the office – To place or answer a call, lift the handset. To place a call, dial the desired number using the keypad on the front of the unit. To end a call, place the handset back into the cradle.

As an added piece of advice (and I’m so glad they informed me of this), the telephone operation manual said to place a call on hold, press the hold button.

If you know of any more funny warning labels, e-mail me at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com. Warning: the e-mail you send may spontaneously disappear from its present location and reappear at any random place in the universe. I will not be responsible for any damages or inconvenience that may result in your actions.