Ever Present Danger

It doesn’t take long for an immigrant to notice differences between the new country and the old. Sometimes they are little ones, and one thinks, “oh, that’s funny because it’s ALMOST the same”. One that jumped out at me soon after arriving in Canada was the customizable red danger signs. At first I thought it a bit odd, since they were mostly used on building sites. As this picture shows, however, you can never be too careful about what danger lurks around the corner!

Danger Due to Zombies
Danger Due to Zombies

These sorts of red signs tend to be used for garage and yard sales in the U.S., or for a used car sale.  While red signs are also used to warn about danger, they’re usually flat warnings:  abandon hope all ye who enter here.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a danger sign that could differentiate between rabid raccoons and falling masonry.  Part of me wonders whether it’s really very useful to make the distinction, although I suppose you could make a dash if you saw a mouth-foaming raccoon making a bee line for you.

That raises another issue, though, which is that many dangers are often only flagged with yellow cones or signs.  Is a falling window washer’s squeegee less dangerous than a reversing bulldozer than a building site where they’ve torn up bricks to put down an accessible ramp?  I’m not sure that encouraging a devil-may-care attitude with yellow signs is conducive to safe travel, especially when one can easily acquire zombie warning signs, among others.  I may have to start carrying these custom signs in my backpack, and pre-emptively warning others of the dangers which surround us.  Clearly, they are manifold and these signs allow for the nuances that pre-printed signs cannot handle.

    David Whelan

    I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.