Healthy Living – Safety First

Wherever one goes nowadays, one may see the signs SAFETY FIRST—on railroad crossings, street cars, bridges, and wharves, and on the walls of machine shops and manufacturing plants.

These signs are not put up by people who think that safety should always be the first concern. Nobody believes, of course, that personal safety should stand in the way of any one’s doing whatever may be necessary to preserve the lives and well-being of others, or that it should keep any one from risking even his life for what he thinks is right. But a great many times lives are lost unnecessarily, by reason of carelessness or negligence.

SAFETY FIRST ought to teach three things. First, that lives should not be risked foolishly. Second, that in the running of great industries such as machine shops, railroads, or factories, safety is of more importance than economy or quickness, and that it is the duty of those who are responsible for the lives of others to take all possible precautions to ensure their safety. Third, that these precautions should be taken first, that is, before serious or fatal accidents have occurred.

You have all heard the saying about locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen. It is a very good thing to know the principles of First Aid, so that when emergencies occur, one may be able to deal with them. But it is far more important and far wiser to form habits of avoiding dangers, in order that the emergencies may never occur.

The “Rules for Prevention of Accidents” prepared by the National Council of Boy Scouts of America in cooperation with the National Safety Council begin with the following striking indictment of carelessness.


More powerful than the combined armies of the universe. More destructive than all the wars of the world.

More deadly than the mightiest of siege guns.

Relentless everywhere: in the home, on the street, in the school and factory, at railroad crossings, on the sea. Lurking in unseen places, working silently.

Scattering sickness, degradation, and death.

Sparing none; rich or poor; young or old; strong or weak. Massacring thousands upon thousands of children and wage earners each year.

Wasting over $300,000,000 annually in the United States.

Safety in the Home.—Safety begins at home. Pick up pins and needles; they cause the death of many babies. Be on the lookout for sharp knives, scissors, etc., and see that they are kept out of the reach of small children. Keep medicines out of the reach of small children. Do not leave anything on the stairs that may cause people to slip, trip, or fall. Keep rugs and carpets flat so that people will not trip over them. Keep the yard free from broken glass, rusty wires, and projecting nails.

Safety from Fires.—Great numbers of lives and millions of dollars’ worth of property are lost each year as a result of fires, many of which are due to common acts of carelessness. If you are a Boy Scout or a Campfire Girl, or if you believe in SAFETY FIRST, you will do everything in your power to prevent people from doing the careless things that may lead to fires. Among these things are: Leaving combustible rubbish in cellars or attics or near buildings.

Leaving oily rags lying about loose or in wooden receptacles. Placing paper, cotton, or other flimsy materials near lights. Failing to fasten back any lace curtains which are near gas brackets.

Hanging clothing near the stove or stovepipe.

Leaving matches where children can reach them.

Using any kind of matches except safety matches. Using rubber connections for gas stoves.

Filling oil stoves or lamps when they are lighted or near other lights.

Kindling fires in stoves with kerosene or gasoline.

Using benzine or gasoline for cleansing in a closed room, or near a flame or a hot flatiron.

Putting hot ashes into wooden receptacles.

Using lighted candles on Christmas trees.

Throwing away lighted matches, cigars, or cigarettes. Lighting matches in closets or attics where clothes are hung. Lighting matches in a room where gas is escaping.

Firing pistols, firecrackers, or fireworks near inflammable material.

Making bonfires near buildings.

Burning leaves or rubbish on a windy day.

Letting children make bonfires or play with fire.

If you are ever in a school or theater or other public place when a cry of fire is started, keep cool. Do not scream or try to be the first one out of the building. Your life and the lives of others may depend upon your keeping your head. Often more damage is caused by panic than by the actual fire.

Every child should learn how to send in a fire alarm, and should know the location of the fire alarms in the neighbor-hood.

When you hear a fire alarm, keep on the sidewalk.

Safety in the Street.—The street of a modern city, town, or even a country village, is no place to play in and no place to walk in carelessly or thoughtlessly. The automobile and the electric car are among the most useful servants of mankind, but they claim thousands of victims every year, and will continue to do so as long as drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are careless.

If you believe in SAFETY FIRST:

Keep to the right in walking and in entering doorways. Don’t cross crowded city streets in the middle of the block or diagonally; use the cross walks at the intersection of the streets.

Don’t run across the street in front of a car, wagon, auto-mobile, or motorcycle, or just behind a vehicle (which may hide something coming in the opposite direction). It is better to be late for an appointment than to be carried to the hospital.

Don’t play in the street where cars, automobiles, motor-cycles, and wagons must run. Find playgrounds or open lots where play is safe.

Don’t steal rides on cars, wagons, or automobiles.

Don’t skate on roller skates in the street. Accidents due to hitching on wagons with roller skates are very common.

Coast in an open field, not across a much-traveled highway or across car tracks.

Don’t touch any parts of automobiles that are standing in the street.

When waiting for a car, stand on the curb, not in the street.

Don’t get on or off a car while it is moving. When you do get off, always face toward the front. Get on with the right hand and the left foot, get off with the left hand and the right foot.

Don’t stand on the crowded step of a car. A sudden jerk or jolt may knock you off.

Don’t put your head or arm out of the open window of a car. Many accidents are caused in this way, from collision with posts or passing vehicles.

Watch for teams and automobiles when you get off a car. Look both ways.

Don’t throw banana peels or other things into the street for others to slip on or trip over.

Remember that sling shots, air guns, and “beebee” guns are dangerous, and that the throwing of sand or stones may cause serious injury.

Keep away from excavations and open manholes. Let strange dogs alone.

Safety from Wires.—To handle wires of any kind, hanging from poles or trees, or to tamper with them may cause a serious accident or death. They may be live wires; that is, an electric current may be passing through them.

Report broken wires to the Police Department by telephone immediately.

Do not fly a kite near wires.

Do not throw stones or shoot at the glass insulators on the poles.

Do not throw strings or wires over a trolley or other wire carrying an electric current.

Safety on Railroad Tracks and in Railroad Yards.—It is dangerous to play along railroad tracks or on railroad bridges. Trains may be expected at any time.

Keep out of railroad yards.

Keep off the sidings and cars standing on tracks.

When crossing railroad tracks, stop and listen; look in both directions. A bell ringing or a moving signal arm indicates that a train is approaching.

Never crawl under or through a standing train. It may start when you least expect it.

To walk around lowered gates or crawl under them is dangerous.

Safety in the Factory or Shop.—Modern industry re-quires swiftly-moving machinery. It makes necessary the handling of heavy materials and the carrying out of dangerous processes. Many of the children now in school will soon be working in these factories, and if they re-member about SAFETY FIRST, many sad accidents may be prevented.

Remember that moving machinery of all kinds is dangerous. No one should go near such machinery until he has learned just what the special danger points are and how they can be avoided. All gears and other moving parts, unless covered by safety guards, are exceedingly dangerous.

Remember that Shafting; belts, and pulleys are dangerous. Keep away from them.

Elevators and elevator shafts are dangerous.

Open holes and pits in the factory or elsewhere are dangerous.

Slippery floors often cause severe falls.

Carelessly-placed ladders may tip over and injure many people.

Piled-up heavy material is dangerous. A piece may slip and cause the whole to topple over.

Flying particles of steel and other bodies may cause blindness.

Nails and splinters left about may stick into some one and cause blood poisoning.

Safety from Firearms.—Firearms are always dangerous. They are made to kill, and children should never be allowed to play with them. A gun or a pistol should never be pointed at any one. You can never be sure that it is not loaded.

Safety on the Water.—The best way to avoid the danger of drowning is to learn to swim. This is one of the things every child should know, for his own life and the lives of others may some time depend on it.

A swimmer, however, should never be reckless. He should not swim out too far, or go in swimming without some help near by. Even the most expert swimmer may be taken with a cramp and need instant assistance.

Never play in a rowboat or canoe. Don’t rock it and do not try to stand up or change seats when a boat is in deep water. Do not lean over the side, or make sharp sudden movements.

In case you are thrown into deep water by the turning over of a boat, or from any other cause, try to keep your presence of mind, even if you cannot swim. Remember that the water will almost support your weight. You can allow yourself to sink so that your nose is just above the water, and support yourself by a hand on the boat; or an oar under the chin will hold you up. If you are unable to catch hold of anything to help support you, lie flat on your

back with your arms stretched out. With light clothing, one may float almost indefinitely in this position, especially in salt water. Do not become excited if the water or spray rises momentarily over your face. Above all, do not at-tempt to throw up your head or, still worse, your arms or legs, as this will cause the body to sink.


1. Can you give an example of a person’s risking his life recklessly, just to show that he is not afraid?

2. What difference is there between the reckless endangering of life and the risking of life to save another or to serve a cause? To which does the modern slogan SAFETY FIRST apply?

3. What three things do we learn by this slogan?

4. Do you recall any careless act of the past day or week that had ill consequences? Any act that might have had grave results?

5. What are some of the things that you can do to make your own home safe?

6. What are some of the habits that cause street accidents?

7. How should you get on and off a street car? Explain.

8. Sand fights are very popular among children at the seashore. Why are they not safe?

9. During a cyclone in a western city, the lighting system was seriously damaged. People were obliged to carry lanterns, in going about the dark streets. The police were constantly warning them to look out for live wires. What did they mean?

10. Why do railroads warn the public against trespassing on railroad property?

11. Are all factories careful for the safety of their employees? Is it cheaper to take precautions or to pay damage suits?

12. If an employee is injured when he has been drinking, is his employer responsible? How does SAFETY FIRST apply to the use of alcohol?

13. What is your opinion of a “safe and sane Fourth”? Suggest ways of celebrating the day more suitably than the old-fashioned way.

14. What do you think of the rule that is in force in most summer camps for boys and girls,—that no one shall go on a canoe trip who cannot swim?

15. In water accidents, sometimes the best and strongest swimmers are lost. How can you account for this?

16. Give examples of how a cool head in an accident may avert disaster.