Building Construction, Renovation, Maintenance & Advice

Keeping Safe at Home

"Vermes Legisperitum"

Last week we heard about Ms Plod, a policewoman in Britain, who was called to a petrol station after the owner reported a burglary at his premises. Her mind must have been elsewhere (perhaps somewhere between her left armpit and her right knee) and she tripped over a kerb which happened to be on the petrol station’s premises. She is now suing the petrol station owner for her injured leg and wrist and probably her lost pride. Her boss, Chief Plod, is as amused as a constipated food critic and is avoiding giving explanations as to why it is that his plods do not get any financial compensation if they injure themselves while chasing Freddy “the Weasel” Nurk and his bag of swag in the dead of night.

Of course it is certainly not reasonable that any private company should have kerbs on their premises without a licence. What we need are kerb control laws and background checks for kerb ownership. In spite of the obvious extreme danger that kerbs present to ordinary people the powerful National Kerb Association is resisting any move to protect fumble footed peelers citing the Book of Eric as saying “Kerbeth thy ways that evil may not befall thee” and claiming that the word “ways” is not qualified and so must include both highways and byways (and any other way for that matter).

Ambulance chasing lawyers

Accidents have become big business in recent years and litigation has been running rampant. Indeed we have witnessed the spawning of a whole new species of rodent that thrives on those who suffer injuries whether self inflicted or perpetrated by others. Known as sperits (from the latin vermes legisperitum) these stewards of society can often be found running around the streets chasing ambulances. They provide an invaluable service comforting anyone who might have had an accident in the last three years and taking up their case, fighting for justice and appropriate compensation. These wonderful people who operate under the motto “Accidents don’t just happen, someone’s got to be summonsed!” work as volunteers not requiring a fee unless success is achieved at which point they require a mere percentage of the total amount gained. It is common these days that when someone is involved in an accident of some sort (such as poking themselves up the nose with a dangerous object such as a toothbrush) you will hear comforting cries of “may the sperit be with you”.

Sperits have been so successful in their services to mankind (and womankind of course) that those who provide assurances to society in exchange for financial contributions have found it necessary to elevate their levels of recompense. This has put the cost of assurances out of reach for many and has been highly successful in ceasing the operation of such dangerous activities as concerts, festivals, public swimming pools, church fetes and the like and putting a stop to that highly dangerous antisocial childhood behaviour of playing in the schoolyard.

Our world has been too dangerous for far too long and thankfully governments these days are doing something about it. Indeed there are whole public service departments busily applying themselves to the task of seeking out ever more thoughtful ways that we may be protected from our own stupidity and stopping little boys from doing anything that may even slightly resemble fun.

Health and Safety at Work Legislation

Australia, struggling with rising levels of public paranoia, has been particularly enthusiastic in protecting its citizens from their own stupidity with the introduction of the Wealth and Safety at Work Act and extensive compliance regulations. All items of equipment used in public places these days must be inspected and certified for compliance every 3 months. This is of major benefit to the economy providing valuable work for armies of people who go around checking everything that moves, or doesn’t move, to make sure it is safe.

New initiatives being considered include the banning of hot coffee, the registering of steak knives with owners being required to hold a valid license, the removal of glass from people’s residences and the requirement that people wishing to use condoms must take a 6 week training course with a final practical examination at the end.

Regulation does seem to be going just a little mad doesn’t it? In so called developed countries common sense doesn’t seem to be very common anymore.

Where will it all end? Will we see roads and footpaths covered with thick layers of foam rubber to stop people hurting themselves if ever they are so irresponsible as to leave their place of abode and, God forbid, fall over in the street. Let’s face it bed is the safest place to be - as long as you don’t smother on a pillow.

We might pause to consider that perhaps excessive intervention in people lives on the grounds of protecting them from themselves may, in fact, be counter productive. Some might say it disturbs the harmonious balance of the cosmos by interfering with the natural course of events and leaving our gene pool contaminated by those distinctly lacking in the gorm department.

It is good to see that here in paradise we have our own sophisticated form of regulation, natural selection. A cleverly designed system that ensures that those who do stupid things (like walking down a footpath) will make their contribution to society by removing themselves from it. There is still some common sense too, I can’t see an armed robber in Bali managing to sue a minimarket owner after tripping over the doormat on his way out, can you?

Unfortunately in Indonesia the authorities are starting to change. New footpaths are being constructed (without holes in them) and are thoughtfully being built about a metre high so that exuberant Harley Davidson riders will not mount them and kill someone. You may have also noticed yellow tiles being installed along the centre of these footpaths with ridges cast into them. The purpose of these tiles has been a mystery for some time now. Some people believed the yellow line meant no parking on the footpath, others thought the ridges were designed to keep people alert by tripping them up if they weren’t paying attention while yet others thought the lines were so that motorbikes riding down the footpaths would keep to the left.

Finally the truth has been revealed. The lines are to assist people with poor eyesight or blindness. They can follow the ridges by feeling them with their feet. When they come to a turn or a junction the ridges change to raised dots warning the person to take care or to turn (well that's the theory anyway).

Never let it be said the government employees don’t have a sense of humour, in the centre of a main tourist area the other day the yellow line was seen to lead straight into a concrete power pole planted in the centre of the footpath.
“Ah ha ha, got you that time you blind wazok.”

In Bali we are blessed with many freedoms that more developed countries gave up long ago but, as I have said before, with these freedoms comes a greater need for us to look after ourselves. Here there is no “they” that will make sure that people follow road rules, that what we buy is safe, that our houses are built properly and that electrical and other installations will not kill us. Yes there are comprehensive and well compiled national standards but in a wonderful laid back way these are generally not followed. Most people don't even know about them. It is common to see men digging holes in flip flops, climbing to high places on flimsy scaffolding and of course, the biggest cause of death among young people (both locals and tourists), not wearing helmets on motorbikes.

A Home Safety Checklist

Here is a quick checklist of some of the many ways we can protect ourselves from everyday risks:

  • Use nonslip tiles on floors particularly where they may get wet.
  • In bathrooms and other exposed places use safety glass for doors and panels.
  • Do not have electrical plug sockets in bathrooms.
  • Get your water tested for mineral or bacterial contamination.
  • Don’t drink or clean your teeth in tap water.
  • Check your septic tank is not leaking.
  • Don't eat leftovers in tropical climates.
  • Keep gas cylinders and their regulators outside or in a well ventilated space.
  • Don’t make steps to steep.
  • Don’t set ceiling fans too low.
  • Make sure the gas is turned off after you finish cooking.
  • Pull plugs out when you leave the house.
  • Get your electricity circuits checked particularly if you have an alang alang roof.
  • Provide balustrades along drops more than a normal step high.
  • Avoid having sharp edges on floors, steps tables and chairs.
  • Make sure all electrical circuits are earthed.
  • Do not have your water heater set higher than 65 degrees.
  • Make sure the hot tap is on the left.
  • Avoid the use of glass in low door panels.
  • Put fences around deep swimming pools to keep children away.
  • Make sure swimming pools have an easy way of getting out.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy and check that it works periodically.
  • Check furnishings to make sure they are not made from highly inflammable materials.
  • Don’t use a knife to get that piece of toast out of the toaster.
  • If you smell gas don’t look for it with a naked flame and don’t switch a light switch or anything else electrical on.
  • Check the power chords of electrical appliances (especially irons) regularly and don’t procrastinate about fixing them.
  • Check your house for cracks or other signs of damage.
  • Look for heavy masonry on your house that could fall in an earthquake and get it removed.
  • Don’t ride a motorcycle, if you have to then always wear a helmet.
  • Get yourself a guard dog.
  • Make sure you have effective door locks but that you can get our in case of fire.
  • If someone breaks in don't confront them, let them take what they want and go.
  • Don't keep dangerous dogs such as Pit Bull Terriers or Rottweilers (yes I know, yours is a nice friendly one that wouldn't hurt a fly, I have a friend you should talk to about that).
  • Put beer on the bottom shelf of the fridge, it keeps it colder and you can still reach in when you are rendered legless.
  • Also consider that if you can't afford health insurance perhaps you should be living elsewhere.

Keep safe.

Copyright © Phil Wilson 2013
This article or any part of it cannot be copied or reproduced without permission from the copyright owner.

8 February 2017 Copyright © Mr Fixit,
Jl Bypass Ngurah Rai, Gg Penyu No 1, Sanur, Bali 80228, Indonesia
Telephone: +62-361-288-789, Fax:+62-361-284-180