One of my favorite children’s books is Officer Buckle & Gloria by Peggy Rathmann. In this quirky Caldecott Medal friendship story, a policeman and his dog work the elementary school lecture circuit, delivering tips to help kids stay safe. For example:
Safety Tip No. 1: Keep your shoelaces tied.
Safety Tip No. 77: Never stand on a swivel chair.
And the most important lesson of all…
Safety Tip No. 101: Always stick with your buddy.
After a recent weeklong OSHA seminar, our construction school instructor returned to the Tennessee College of Applied Technology as something of an Officer Buckle himself. I don’t know what kind of horror stories they fed him up at that OSHA seminar, but Fearless Leader came back to the shop all hopped up on safety Kool-Aid, doling out earplugs, dust masks and goggles with all the zeal of the newly converted.
Anyway, a hallmark of the heightened safety consciousness is our new daily safety meeting. First thing every morning, a student gives a five-minute schpiel about some aspect of workplace safety, ranging from protective eyewear to snakebites on the job site.
Hydration was the topic one day this week. A Marine delivered the lecture. Given that he chugs two gallons of water every day in class, I couldn’t help but think he’d given the topic some thought, perhaps under more dire circumstances.
The human body is mostly water, he told us. It’s unsafe to perspire too much, particularly if you are pregnant. (The whole class looked at me. No, I am not pregnant.) Or if you are very old. (Again, the whole class looked at me. Fine, I am old.) Keep drinking water…but not too much water…don’t chug your whole canteen…never take salt tablets. And, finally, water is like protective eyewear: It only works if you use it.
As we slow-clapped our classmate down from the podium, OSHA Dad chimed in with a footnote regarding hydration:
“Take it seriously,” he said. “And take some advice: Don’t drink a lot of beer the night before a job just because your buddy is in town.”
Let’s call it Safety Tip No. 102, if Officer Buckle and his buddy Gloria ever make the rounds of post-secondary classrooms.