Building Construction, Renovation, Maintenance & Advice

Household Safety

Electrical installation safety

See the full Fixed Abode article "Minta Mati" here

Some think that natural selection doesn't work anymore, what with antibiotics, the removal of dangerous animals and the endless regulations to protect us from planes falling out of the sky and from being poisoned by fruit flavoured condoms, natural selection doesn't seem to have much of a chance does it. Short sighted people don't fall over cliffs any more, they have glasses. Even playing football in the schoolyard is being banned these days.

“Oh you can't do that, you might die of having too much fun.”

I often wonder whether governments, instead of wrapping their testosterone laden young men in a world of cotton wool might be better served if they actually searched out dangerous things for them to do.

Young men can be a bit of a problem. They get bored you see. Have you noticed how, when there is a report of demonstrations on the streets of some distant city, you are often presented with a picture of young men out in the streets having a high old time throwing stones and setting cars on fire. Could it be that in some cases the political cause is incidental, that all they need is an excuse to let out some of their pent up hormonal tension.

What we need are a few Darwinian opportunities.

Darwin has been very much forgotten in recent times but don't worry, his theory survives and is celebrated annually in the “Darwin Awards”. Some might not have heard of these august, hard earned prizes but they are an interesting concept in which we celebrate evolution. Each year a posthumous award is made to a person who makes the ultimate contribution to the world's gene pool by removing themselves from it. In other words to the person who kills themselves in the most stupid way possible. See

A certain crocodile hunter, noted for holding his toddler child while taunting a large crocodile, was nominated for a Darwin Award but was disqualified because he had already had children.

But make no mistake, for the enterprising adventurer there are many ways to kill yourself here in Paradise.

In recent months five expatriates died in Lombok from drinking arak. As I have said before an Arak Attack is not a drink it is a medical condition.

“Fred died last week, he had a bad arak you know.”

Did you know that well over 90% of deaths in the 18 to 25 age group in Bali are motor bike related. Go to Sanglah hospital any time day or night and you'll see an endless stream of them being wheeled in. The situation at Sanglah hospital has become such a concern that the government has responded to public demands to address the problem and are installing conveyor belts at the emergency entrance to ease the congestion.

There does appear to be a strange lack of interest in stopping people killing themselves though here in paradise. People continue driving out of sidestreets without looking and a myriad of other dangerous behaviours even when they have nearly killed themselves for the five thousandth time. They don't seem to learn do they? The trouble is they tend to take other people with them.

I have a phrase for this leeming like behaviour - “Minta Mati.”

Have you also noticed that when people get dressed up their driving gets worse. Beware of drivers wearing their temple gear.

It is a strange phenomenon, perhaps they feel closer to god? Of course, that's it – reincarnation. Why drive carefully when you can have the opportunity to pass on to another life and be reincarnated as someone very wealthy.

Perhaps someone should point out to them that the odds suggest they are far more likely to come back as one of the millions of starving poor, as a dog, perhaps a termite or even an amoeba in a tourist's bowel. That wouldn't go down very well would it?

But no, the government don't appear to be interested in saving lives. Who knows could it be that secretly they are grateful for the population control – far more effective than the usual family planning methods. If the family planning programs have been struggling with a lack of interest in latex and hormones perhaps they could develop a new approach: “Do your service to the nation. Buy a motor bike”

Indeed Darwin would have been proud. What a good idea - using the concept of natural selection to keep the population down. But there again could this be considered genetic manipulation? The development of a new “super race” through the removal of troublesome genes. There is the “wearing helmets is for sissies” gene, the “who needs a red light on the back of the bike when riding on a dark night” gene, the “I am a smartarse and will ride very very fast through the traffic and weave between the cars” gene and, of course, the inevitable “shoot out of a side street without looking” gene, all being progressively wiped from the gene pool in grand style.

This could lead to a whole new approach to marketing. Honda's new advertising campaign could be turning heads with it's by-line, “if you're going to kill yourself do it in style – buy a Honda.”

Closer to home the building industry is particularly Darwin prone. I remember years ago sitting in an office in Hong Kong watching two men working on a new building across the street. They were sticking mozaic tiles to the outside of the building. Working on a plank on bamboo scaffolding they were at times standing on tip toes to reach those “hard to reach” places. I noticed that they were standing on opposite ends of the same plank which on both ends overhung the bamboo supports. I shuddered to watch them, suddenly I remembered my office was on the seventeenth floor! The fatality rate is very high in the building industry in Hong Kong.

Indonesia is little different. A friend recently saw a man electrocuted on a roof. He was working away next to the electrical pole at the top of the roof and zap! - stone dead – just like that. Electricians (I use the word loosely) in Bali often don't bother turning off the power when they work.

It is a little known fact but there are in fact safety standards here in Indonesia and diligent workers will make sure that they wear the appropriate protective clothing. Recently a young man was climbing onto a roof to install an electrical supply for an air conditioner. His ever watchful supervisor suddenly called him down and berated him for not taking care. The young man came down, put on his rubber thongs and climbed back on the roof.

You think I jest? Didn't you know there is an Indonesian standard for electrician's safety footwear (SNI 04-0225-2000 section 24b - “Thongsulation”)? For men working on twelve volt systems the standard is for FT thongs, for normal house supply of 220 volts the VT grade is specified while overhead linesmen use RRT thongs. (FT – fairly thick, VT – very thick and RRT - really really thick).

Listrik is pretty scary you know. Those little electrons are quite difficult to see if you're not wearing your glasses. That is why it is good to make sure your electrical circuits are in good condition, properly earthed and not overloaded. Pull out plugs and switch everything off before you go out. If you buy thongs (flip flops to you English people) make sure you buy Indonesian standard approved. The poorer your wiring the thicker your thongs should be.

Check your electrical appliances for being properly earthed. If your computer casing gives you tingling sensations it is not properly earthed.

Check your multiple adaptors, you know those useful (but dangerous) things that allow you to plug 853 plugs into one plug socket, very often the earths are not connected.

Gas is also a worry. Keep gas cylinders outside or in a ventilated space separate from the flame. Make sure the regulator seals properly and make sure there is a way of turning the supply of gas off. If you smell gas don't go checking it with a candle.

Wet ceramic or marble floors can be very dangerous particularly when there are sharp edges or drops. Consider using mats or none slip tiles in areas that may get wet particularly verandahs.

Most swimming pools are unfenced here. Countries like Australia have very stringent child protection design rules for pool areas and even then children get drowned. Take care and you may even consider fencing your pool.

It is also not a good idea to keep a pit bull terrier. How often do you hear the words after the dog has mauled a little girl to death. “Rover is such a nice gentle dog - and he likes children you know (for breakfast).”

....and don't dry the cat in the microwave, they have a tendency to explode.

Copyright © Phil Wilson 2009
This article or any part of it cannot be copied or reproduced without permission from the copyright owner.

17 July 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