Safety Gadgets We Lived Without


I just did battle with a Tylenol bottle. I lost! After several minutes of struggle with the “child proof” cap, it finally popped off. The contents of the bottle spilled out as well, scattering across table top and floor with wild abandon. I’m mad. I’m mad at myself for being so clumsy. I’m mad at the aging process for making my fingers less nimble than they used to be. I’m mad at the analgesic makers who designed a bottle cap that is both child and old folk proof.

I know I should be grateful that my grandkids are being so much better protected than I was growing up, but, in all my years, I never knew a kid to swallow a whole bottle of over-the-counter, nasty tasting pain medication. It doesn’t even seem possible. Having had one pill accidentally melt in my mouth and remembering how vile it tasted, I would think it would be a complete turn off for little ones. But I’m sure the manufacturers thought they were doing a service with those impossible to open lids. And I suppose they are afraid of law suits if they don’t.

I’m glad, too, that my Shana Punims wear helmets when riding their bikes or skateboards. This accessory wasn’t even around when I grew up. But honestly, did I really need that protective head gear? There were few cars on my block to watch out for, and our old fashioned bicycles couldn’t go faster than maybe a half mile an hour, if that. On our roller skates, we moved even slower. And the closest thing to a skateboard was a scooter which, try as we would, couldn’t go much faster then we could walk. So who needed a bulky helmet?

I am grateful that some genius invented seat belts which I always put on before I even turn on the motor. I remember with horror young children standing on front seats in moving autos, sans seat belts. They weren’t available on even the most expensive models then. A sudden stop or swerve could cause a child to tumble into the dash board. What a chilling thought that is!

Air bags which are now standard on most new cars are another thing. I don’t know if they make me feel better or not. I’ve heard stories that make me wonder.

Keeping track of teenagers via cell phones is certainly an improvement. For parents to be able to call their offspring to see exactly where they are, who they’re with, when they’ll be home seems like an ideal way for children to avoid disaster. Recently however, my son complained that his teenage daughter often forgets to turn on hers. That, I’m sure, would be even worse than not having a cell phone at all.

Some folks may think this safety conscious generation has it good, far easier than we did. In many ways, they do. When I was growing up, I had to tell my folks where and with whom I was going. They gave me a curfew and expected---and got—certain behavior.. And they communicated with my friends’ parents to keep track of me. We did our share of getting around all that, of course, but one thing is for sure. They didn’t have to worry quite as much as my kids do.

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