When I saw the news report that a policeman stopped his cruiser on the railroad tracks and proceeded to arrest someone in a pickup, my heart sank. My mind was yelling, "Don't stop on the tracks!"
He placed the handcuffed woman in the back seat, left the car on the tracks and went to check the pickup. Within a minute we saw the train plow into the cruiser and turn it into a mangled heap of scrap metal. Fearing that the woman had been crushed to death, we were amazed to hear that she survived and is now out of the hospital.
The question that burned in my mind was, "Why would anyone purposely stop on railroad tracks?" Especially a policeman who was supposed to know better?
Then I began to think about other situations that were equally deadly. As an electrical safety officer at a scientific laboratory, I had to show heart-wrenching videos to teach people how and why to be safe. The following are brief descriptions of several of the videos.
1. A woman videoed her husband changing a light bulb in their basement. Changing bulbs sounds safe. People do it all the time. But earlier that day a water pipe had burst, flooded the basement, and
the husband was on an aluminum ladder standing in two feet of water. As the woman videoed, her husband was electrocuted. He died before he hit the water.
2. A woman had just washed her hair, the rinse water was still in the sink and the woman was drying her hair with a blow dryer. Her daughter was having fun videoing the scene. Still operating, the blower slipped out of the woman's hand and she reached out to grab it as it hit the water. She died instantly.
3. A lathe in the workshop stopped working as the lights went out. The shop foreman went to the 480-volt, 3-phase, 200-amp breaker box to see which breaker had popped. He removed the front panel of the box. Then without performing the standard safety procedure, which includes switching the main breaker off and locking out the system, and without wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment, he decided to remove the faulty breaker. He bumped two electrical cables together and the ensuing electrical explosion destroyed his right hand, badly disfigured his face and permanently blinded him. He lived but, now blind, his right hand had to be amputated.
4. This one was not a video I showed my division but I remember driving from San Diego, Calif., on the inside lane of I-8 going to El Cajon. Our four eastbound lanes were relatively full, traveling approximately 45 mph when a motorcycle sped past me at about 85 mph on the inside shoulder. Five minutes later, the two inside lanes slowed down, stopped, then we began inching forward. Our two lanes began merging to the right. We crawled at 5 mph in spurts. A little later, we passed the remnants of that motorcycle; the driver's body was twisted against the center median and four cars stopped at various angles. Neither police nor ambulance had arrived yet.
5. Years ago, I did a safety inspection for a family that moved into a house it had just bought. Of the items I listed for them, the most serious was the covers for five electrical outlets were missing. I told them that with several very young children, the covers should be replaced immediately. When the father responded that he would teach the children not to stick fingers or anything else into the outlets, I wasn't happy when I told him that risking children's lives like that was utterly foolish. He had them replaced before the day was over.
I could tell you more, but that's enough. My question is, why do people do things like that? I really get bothered when people purposely do things dangerously or refuse to make things safe.
But did you know that there is something more important than physical safety? It's called eternal safety.
Some time ago, I had this brief conversation with a grumpy friend.
I said, "Good morning."
He responded, "What's so good about it?"
"If you didn't wake up, where would you be?"
"I'd be dead."
"Your body would be dead but your spirit would be in either heaven or hell. Where would you be?"
He thought about it, then said, "Good morning."
He realized he wouldn't have been in heaven.
So dear reader, where would you be if you didn't wake up this morning? Please, don't stop on the tracks. Make a safe decision.
S. Eugene Linzey is an author, speaker and mentor. Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his website at www.genelinzey.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.