Category Archives: Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty


Fire or Ice?

Today’s post comes from Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty.

At ease, civilians!

But when I say ‘at ease’ of course I mean you should remain extremely watchful. A healthy amount of trepidation is better for you than multivitamins, as we just discovered, though that’s mostly because everything is better for you than multivitamins.

And do not worry that you will ever run out of things to fear because there is always another catastrophe looming on the horizon.

Case in point: I have spent many hours worrying that a major asteroid will crash into our planet, causing an enormous explosion that will eject massive amounts of dirt and gas into the atmosphere, obliterating the sun and making life as we know it unsustainable.

But last week I discovered that maybe I should be looking down instead.


New research suggests the supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park is much bigger than previously thought.. Now they’re saying it could be 55 miles across, which makes it big enough to cause an enormous explosion that will eject massive amounts of dirt and gas into the atmosphere, obliterating the sun and making life as we know it unsustainable.

Of course scientists say they are monitoring Yellowstone closely and there is no indication that it is in any way about to blow. Should changes occur that suggest an eruption is at hand, we would have time to prepare.

Somehow I’m not comforted.

And what if an asteroid crashed into the Yellowstone caldera? Wouldn’t that set it off immediately? This is the sort of thing that keeps me awake on long winter nights, which is, by the way, the season we’re in. It is a time of despair, which suits me just fine. I may be the only person who has seasonal affective disorder all year round. Stepping outside, I pause to wonder if the prevailing northwest wind will freeze us in our tracks before we can be incinerated by speeding rocks from above or molten rock from below.

It reminds me of my favorite poem about armaggeddon, Fire and Ice by Robert Frost.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Yours in Safety, B.S.O.R.

Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty is at his usual life-of-the-party best here. He suggested this post should run on Christmas Day because it might give families a chance to talk about their Volcano Evasion Plan over dinner, but I hinted to him it was a bit of a downer and we might go with it a day or so early. He said the prospect of things happening before he expects them to is another scenario that keeps him up at night.

Fire or Ice – what’s your preference?

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Mind Your Knitting

Today’s post comes from Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty (B.S.O.R.).


At ease, civilians! Stay at ease and stay relaxed. And always, always be aware of your surroundings, Remember that your primary job is to preserve life and limb. As my Grandma Rafferty always said, “Mind your knitting. Unless you’re driving. Then mind your driving.”

This basic bit of commonsense instruction was apparently never given to the captain of the Costa Concordia, who sailed too close to the rocks while his illicit squeeze was watching him work. Never let someone watch you work! Never allow your attention to be drawn away by a distraction of any sort, such as showing off for some sexy someone whom you desperately want to impress.

If we counted up the cost of the rash things that have been done to leave a favorable impression with someone, it would leave a very unfavorable impression! That’s because wanting to impress anyone is ALWAYS a threat to life and limb, even if you’re trying to wow them with how SAFE you are.

When I was a senior in high school, I was courting the woman who eventually became Mrs. BSOR. I felt that I needed to demonstrate to her that I was not going to be fodder for one of those teenage car tragedy songs. I decided to do it by showing her how quickly I could become secured in the driver’s seat, literally grabbing the restraint system as I slipped into the vehicle and with one deft and powerful motion, slamming the metal buckle into its receptacle. As a result, I mangled my index finger and became hopelessly entangled in the seat-and-shoulder belt harness. Still trying to seem suave, I made a move to get out of the car quickly and gracefully, and in the process I hit the power recline button and wound up spraining my neck!

It was ill-advised and reckless of her to marry me anyway – a lapse for which I will always be grateful.

Y.I.S. (Yours in Safety),
B.S.O.R.(Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty)

What do you do when you want to show off?

Tube Boobs

Today’s post comes from Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty.

At ease, civilians! But stay vigilant. Sound the alarm whenever radical new ideas expose you to risk! Even theoretical risk, which could lead directly to imaginary dismemberment or even hypothesized death.

Yes, I’m thinking of industrialist/inventor Elon Musk’s intriguing, controversial Hyperloop. Musk has imagined an enclosed travel-tube stretching from Los Angeles to San Francisco. He pictures us climbing into vehicles that shoot through the tube on cushions of air, propelled by a magnetic pulse to speeds of up to 800 miles per hour.


If you’re thinking of one of those pneumatic devices that carries cash, checks and dog treats from the parking lot to the teller and back to your car in branch banking, Elon Musk will call you a moron and take his billions elsewhere in head-shaking disgust. But that’s what I’m picturing anyway, and it does not comfort me. Even if everything is OK on the journey from point A to point B, what about the people who handle the tube when it arrives at its destination? During the heyday of pneumatic office communication, the weak link always happened in the basement where all the tubes ended and various boobs and imbeciles fumbled to open the capsules and spilled the precious contents onto a dank cement floor. Or at least that’s how I picture it.

Receiving Musk’s scorn now is a small price to pay compared to what it would feel like to climb into one of his tubes and realize, too late, that you’ve been had. But then climbing into a tube of any kind is alarming. I had a bad experience once with a water park tube slide that had to do with someone else’s bodily functions and not enough space between travelers. And I’m sure I don’t have to point out to you that once you knock off the wings and the tail, an airplane is tube-shaped. Risk minimizers will tell you that a large, commercial airplane is incredibly safe, but look how easily I knocked off the wings and the tail! It didn’t even take an entire sentence.

I like having escape options, so I would want Musk’s speeding travel pods and the tubes they rocket through to have frequently spaced egress hatches in case I have to climb out for a breath of fresh air, or to escape flames, or to run away from snakes. But at the same time, I would worry while pfooshing down the California coast line that some low-level workman had left a hatch ajar. That can’t end well!

As a professional public-safety scold, it’s my job to seriously consider every worst-case scenario. So I worry about the pull of gravity every time I lift one of my feet off the ground! After all, think of the possibilities! Most of them aren’t pretty.

People say Elon Musk is our most imaginative business leader and technological visionary. But when I dwell on all the ways you could be mangled in his Hyperloop and then hear him say the thing is perfectly safe, it’s obvious that he’s just not imaginative enough!

Yours in Safety,

What could go wrong?

Exploded View

Today’s guest post comes from Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty.

Greetings, Civilians!

I want to share this old photo with you – it was taken from the capsule of Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve, 1968. It is an historic image of the Earthrise, as seen from the moon.

Image: NASA
Image: NASA

I’ve been thinking about this photo a lot.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that today is the Fourth of July. And I certainly don’t need to explain how I feel about exploding things! That fact that anybody, anywhere would willingly cause something to blow up violently completely concusses my safety-conscious mind!

It’s fair to say that anyone who invites me to go to Wisconsin to buy skyrockets with them, or wants me to watch while they set off a string of firecrackers, is going to get a stern lecture instead of the thrill they were seeking. I find nothing exciting about loud noises and the smell of gunpowder, except for the potential satisfaction i might get from shaming someone for putting us all in such danger.

Is it even possible to have an explosion-free Fourth of July?

I was going to say “go to a movie”, but there’s plenty of violence there. Grilling is an alternative, but some hot dogs do have a tendency to blow up. I have spent most of my adult life engaged in a public service campaign to discourage the very kind of celebration that seems to make up most of the Fourth of July. Not that I’ve had much success.


Why do we have to glorify the bomb? I blame it on human nature and the National Anthem.

As humans, we are enthralled by things that are loud and bright and dangerous. I know this is not a popular position, but we have to face it. The Star Spangled Banner has been misused, and its unfortunate popularity in a shortened version at sporting events has served to oversimplify the message and nullify the poetry. Yet it could be reclaimed so easily.

Here’s the part that we sing:

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Note that the rockets and the bombs come in at the most emotional moment in the verse. No wonder we’re so explodo-centric!

What if we brought forward some of the other verses of TSSB? The song is based on a four stanza poem by Francis Scott Key – “Defence of Fort McHenry“. And yet we only sing one of the stanzas!

The others are more poetic and less violent. In particular, here’s my favorite.

On the shore dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Why can’t we sing THIS stanza at a ballgame every now and then? In addition to putting great words (haughty, reposes) into the mouths of ordinary American sports fans, the key lines focus on a glorious dawn rather than bombs being hurled at the foe.

And if a simple sunrise doesn’t stir you, think of it in terms of the photo above – the sun revealing a rising Earth, with the USA front and center, if you wish.

In my safety-obsessed fantasies, we would adopt this sun-centric stanza as our standard verse for “The Star Spangled Banner” and gradually transition from having a bomb-worshiping culture to one that values a simple sunrise.

Is that too much to ask?

Yours in safety,
Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty

Dangerous Loophole

I just received a breathless note from Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty – a man so easily alarmed he ought to know better than to spend his precious spare time reading newspapers. Every page has something guaranteed to ring his bell. And yet he allowed himself to get drawn in to an article in the New York Times about the federal government and driverless cars.


As a result, he is pleading with me to use my vast connection with potentially dozens of blog readers to generate concern about the coming auto-dronepocalypse on our streets and highways.

“I don’t think people are fully aware of the potential threat posed by these road robots! Don’t get me wrong – I have more faith in machines than I do in people. Every human being is a string of accidents waiting to happen! But these autonomous autos were designed and built by humans, and because they are the result of the work of fools, there is no way they can be foolproof!”

But the thing that really got him was this quote from the article:

It is up to state and local governments to decide whether autonomous or semiautonomous cars are allowed on public roads. States including California, Nevada and Florida have already legalized driverless cars. They are not explicitly illegal in other states, because there is no law that says cars must have drivers.

“‘… there is no law that says cars must have drivers!’ Do you realize what this means? It is a gigantic loophole in our legal code – big enough for your mammoth SUV to drive through with all its sensors and GPS turned off! Apparently anything goes as long as you can prove you weren’t the one driving the vehicle. And once vehicles become blame-able, things are going to get very strange out on the roads. My advice – stay away from all interstates, state highways, county roads, city streets, cul-de-sacs, alleyways, driveways and cart paths for the next twenty years, until all this autonomous locomotion business gets sorted out! That’s what I’m going to do, and I suggest you do it too!”

I usually don’t take B.S.O.R.’s advice, and I’m not sure that it’s even possible to live in America in 2013 without going near roads. And surely there would be safety hazards to going cross-country all the time. Ticks, for one. Poison ivy too. Not to mention the drones overhead – another kind of autonomous vehicle.

Still, it does make me wonder what sort of life one could lead if the goal was to stay clear of all traffic.

Where is your favorite off-road area?

Fair Warming

Today’s post comes from Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty.

At Ease, Civilians!

Be at ease and be at rest. Calm down and stay relaxed, please. I’m here to remind you that in work and life, pacing is very, very important. The suddenly warm weather we’re having after prolonged exposure to a cold, snowy, inhospitable climate-from-Hell is very dangerous, because it will make people want to do all of their end-of-winter chores in one weekend.

For those people, I have one word:


Ladders, rakes, shovels and clippers can be useful tools, but if you overindulge they will turn on you and they will hurt you. Accept his fact: our spring has been delayed. Nothing is as it should be in the final days of April. I know at least one person who has vowed to finally take the Christmas lights down off the highest peaks of his house this weekend.

More power to him. It is good to tackle the most delayed chores first. But there is no way you can catch up to the season in a single weekend.

I know what happens to muscles that have been idle too long under the strain of sudden activity. I’ve spent my career warning people about our relentlessly brutal and indiscriminate friend, gravity. I’m here to sound the alarm for what I believe is a VDW – a Very Dangerous Weekend.

Take it easy, really. We’ve skipped over spring. It’s going to be a long summer. Pace yourself.

Yours in Safety, Always,

Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty

B.S.O.R. is always preaching excessive caution and pressuring us to lay back and do less, but this weekend he may have a point. A cooped-up people can become over-active under the influence of a long-anticipated and unfairly delayed warm-up.

What’s on your to-do list?

No Jumping!

Today’s post comes from Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty.

At ease, civilians!

Keep your feet on the ground and you’ll be fine, unless you’re standing over some kind of a sinkhole. I’m here to tell you about a public safety menace currently making the rounds – namely the cavalier public discussion about, and reviewing of, Sunday’s vivid basketball injury to Louisville’s Kevin Ware.

If you operate a TV station or cable channel that is constantly re-running this footage, shame on you! If you are someone who has been describing this injury in gruesome detail to people who didn’t see it, shush. And if you haven’t heard anything at all about it all, please, never mind.

In all my years as a professional alarmist I have worked hard to unsettle audiences everywhere by sharing explicit injuries using full-color photos, close-up videos and the most powerful tool of all, words. But I’ve never seen anything like this. Ware’s tibial twist threatens to make jumping the new smoking. And it has sent people into their respective camps.

I have learned that there are really only two different kinds of people – The Squeamish, and Everybody Else. One type is nearly incapacitated by the mere thought of a traumatic injury. The other type shrugs.

If you are a Squeamling, you know how little of someone else’s pain is required to send you into the full fetal position. If you are a Shrugger, really – you couldn’t care less. But I still want you to stop jumping, so I’ve made up a little poem to help you remember.

Be careful when leaping
Stay low when you soar
Go up just enough,
not a quarter inch more.

Between you and the ground
do not put too much room.
your leg bones are not
as tough as you assume.

So be frugal when launching
yourself into the air.
Because when you return,
you don’t want to be Ware.

Yours in compulsive, marginally irrational caution,
Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty

Are you squeamish, or are you a shrugger?

Flip Swish Advisory

Today’s post comes from America’s leading discourager of reckless behavior and most varieties of fun, Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty.

At ease, civilians!

I know I don’t need to repeat that you are safest from harm when you are relaxed and attentive. So get enough sleep, don’t drink to excess, and don’t do things that stick a finger in the eye of gravity or make you, or other people, tense.

That’s why I’m sorely disappointed in William Carey University cheerleader Ashlee Arnau, whose flipping-and-basketball-throwing performance has gone viral on Youtube.

I’ll show it to you, but only if you promise you will never, ever do this yourself.

Ashley told the AP she “really doesn’t practice”, but she has been working on it during half time at home games and this try was the fifth of the night at the last game of the year. In other words, the last possible attempt for this season – imagine the pressure!

This sets a very alarming example for all of America’s flippable youth. Not only was she turning herself upside down without wearing a helmet, but she threw a heavy basketball at high velocity towards a distant target she couldn’t see very well. What if a baby climbed up there on a ladder at the very last minute? Or a frail old grandma?

Unlikely, I know. But what if?

And Ashlee is not alone in this obsession. Once you start to look around online, you’ll find dozens of videos where people are doing handsprings and launching spheres into the air. And then there are these guys, taking trick shots with basketballs around the outsides of airplanes. I know there’s something terribly dangerous and ill-advised about all of this, even if I can’t tell you what, exactly.

There’s additional danger on the way! I know this to be true – People who earn a small bit of fame making trick shots in Youtube videos will be called on to try those shots again and again and again. In the process of reaching for another taste of glory, they will face disappointment and may forget to become doctors, lawyers, mathematicians, artists, or even baristas. You can try your whole life to make the impossible shot a second time – and even if you do, so what? You already did that.

And during each of those fruitless attempts, they will repeatedly violate two of my most important safety rules:

1) Keep your feet on the ground, and
2) Don’t throw things.

So I’m imploring Ashlee Arnau and all who would mimic her, please … stop now while you’re ahead. Don’t ever try that again!

Yours in Safety,
B.S.O. Rafferty

It’s hard to argue with the reasoning here but I think Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty is just a little bit jealous. Having Youtube Trick Shot Fame would be incredibly satisfying – but once you know that your amazing feat is being replayed all over the world pretty much endlessly, it would naturally lead a person to wonder – what next?

Describe something you did successfully – just once.

Safety Last!

Today’s post comes from Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty.

At ease, Civillians!

But when I say ‘at ease’, I don’t necessarily mean you should relax. We must always stay vigilant about personal safety issues, but especially so at the end of the year when time is running out on the statistic-keeping for 2012.


Don’t get me wrong. It is awful to fall down the stairs, no matter when that happens. But if you fall down the stairs during the last week of the year your calamity won’t have the same effect on the manufacturers of handrails or stair treads that it might have if you took your tumble in, say, January. Stair accessory manufacturers have already closed the books on 2012. They’ve decided if they had a good year or bad in the never-ending battle with gravity. What might be a personal disaster for you would come too late to indicate any kind of a trend in stairway safety, one way or another.

It would be like being the last soldier to get shot in a long war.

So stay safe in these final days of 2012, and I say that with full knowledge that this is a primary time for encountering extreme cold, glare ice and liberal amounts of alcohol – all of them are elements that actively work AGAINST personal safety and security. Cold, Ice and Alcohol. CIA! Spooky.

So be vigilant. Be hesitant to take any unwise risk. If someone suggests that you take the Christmas lights down from the peak of the house before New Year’s Day even though the ground and the roof are covered with ice, just say ‘no’. If the thought occurs to you that you’d like to rinse the thick layer of dust off your kitchen radio while it’s still plugged in, ask yourself if that’s smart. If a smart-aleck suggest that you lick raw cookie dough off the moving parts of your new kitchen stand mixer while it is still running, send that person away. In fact, if you think any specific activity is bound to be risky, it’s never wrong to say “wait ’til next year.”

After all, it’s just a couple of days’ delay! And then you can resolve to be totally injury free in 2013!

Yours in safety,
B.S.O. Rafferty

I think this is a safety statistic fanatic’s take on an important issue. Really, it’s as important to be careful now as it will be in January or June. But whatever reason he uses to give us a stern warning is fine with me, because I know B.S.O.R. has a need to waggle his finger at us and it keeps him healthy to be constantly alarmed at what we might do.

What potentially risky behavior will you foreswear in 2013?

Loose Lips Mock Cliffs

At ease, civilians!

But watch your language when it comes to casual talk about “going over the fiscal cliff”. We Public Safety Enthusiasts are alarmed at the decision by those who frame our discussions this way. To call the upcoming budget deadline a “Fiscal Cliff” does not give enough credit to cliffs!

No Cliff Talk!
No Cliff Talk!

A real cliff is a very serious thing indeed. Real cliffs don’t discriminate between the rich and the poor. They are not indexed and there are no exemptions. Think of a cliff as the sudden withdrawal of terrestrial support while gravity remain in place and is as vigorous as ever.

Can we survive without earth under our feet? I say no! This is undeniable. Instead, pundits gab with mock seriousness about “going over”.

This kind of talk creates what is widely known as a reverse visioning hazard. We already understand that visioning is a key principle in leading an organization – helping people “see” their future in order to make it happen. The more we envision a thing, like going over a cliff together, the closer it comes to reality.

And what if we DO go over the “cliff”, and it turns out to be Not That Bad? Suddenly, cliffs become part of the everyday lexicon, and “going over” is just something you do every now and then. No big deal? Wrong! Let’s make sure cliffs remain dreadful. We should speak of them in hushed tones, and stay away from every kind – figurative, fiscal, and physical. That’s my advice!

Yours in groundedness,
B.S.O. Rafferty

Have you ever gotten over a useful, protective fear?