Wacky Warning Labels

Published April 1, 2006

Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch (M-LAW) conducts an annual “World’s Wackiest Warning Label Contest,” and many of the winning labels are highly amusing, as noted below.

But the proliferation of warning labels is no laughing matter, said M-LAW President Robert B. Dorigo. “Warning labels are a sign of our lawsuit-plagued times,” he said. “From the moment we raise our head in the morning off pillows that bear those famous ‘Do Not Remove’ warnings, to when we drop back in bed at night, we are overwhelmed with warnings. Plaintiffs’ lawyers who file the lawsuits that prompt these warnings argue they are making us safer, but the warnings have become so long that few of us read them anymore–even the ones we should read.”

Current and former winning labels and runners-up include the following, from the M-LAW Web site:

  • A toilet brush labeled, “Do not use for personal hygiene.”
  • A label on a digital thermometer that can be used in either of two bodily orifices: “Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally.”
  • A label on a child’s scooter: “This product moves when used.”
  • A household iron label that warns, “Never iron clothes while they are being worn.”
  • A hair dryer label that warns, “Never use hair dryer while sleeping.”
  • A warning on a power drill for construction workers: “This product not intended for use as a dental drill.”
  • A warning on a bottle of drain cleaner: “If you do not understand, or cannot read, all directions, cautions and warnings, do not use this product.”
  • A smoke detector that warns, “Do not use the Silence Feature in emergency situations. It will not extinguish a fire.”
  • A warning on a cardboard sun shield that covers an automobile’s front windshield to cool the car’s interior: “Do not drive with sunshield in place.”
  • A warning on a 12-inch rack for storing CDs: “Do not use as a ladder.”
  • A laser printer cartridge that warns, “Do not eat toner.”
  • A label on a 13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow, which warns, “Not intended for highway use.”
  • A warning on a can of self-defense pepper spray: “May irritate eyes.”
  • A manufactured fireplace log that warns, “Caution Risk of Fire.”

Maureen Martin ([email protected]) is senior fellow for legal affairs for The Heartland Institute.

For more information …

Visit the Web site of Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch at http://www.mlaw.org.