John C. Myre,
Live Safely in a Dangerous World:
How to Beat the Odds
of Dying in an Accident

(Bookmasters, 2002)

Do you think you know how to drive safely? How to avoid being hit by lightning? How to properly use a ladder?

Well, you probably do. And you probably ignore that knowledge to some extent, every time you speed up to match the flow of traffic or decide to start a home-repair project without assistance. And most people who cook have probably left a hot pan on the stove to answer the phone or check on the kids. But John C. Myre is charitably assuming this careless behavior is a result of ignorance, and has set out to save us with Live Safely in a Dangerous World: How to Beat the Odds of Dying in an Accident, a list of all the sane, safe, sensible practices we know we should be following.

Live Safely is a manual more than a guidebook, with sections on travel, home repair, child safety and seemingly everything except how to behave when you ignore these safety guidelines and wind up in the hospital. Myers has made some effort to keep each section brief, with no more than two pages of bulleted safety tips. Unfortunately these bulleted lists are rather boring to read. With pages of dry checklists to wade through, most casual readers will probably avoid even scanning the information until after they've had one of the accidents Myers so painstakingly shows how to avoid.

Myers makes some attempt to convince the reader of the urgency of his suggested "safety plans." Many of the two-page segments have brief story scenarios of people coming to disaster as a result of careless behavior, with the results usually in inverse proportion to the assumed level of hazard. Anyone who laughed at driver's ed films and after-school programs will enjoy the same levels of hyperbolic earnestness in the tales of people who disable their shoulders while getting in the bathtub and bathers electrocuted by their hair dryers. It's worst-case scenario material, illustrated by well-drawn cartoons that usually, though not always, have a clear connection to the story.

Live Safely is a collection of extremely practical advice. It's advice that most people already know and are busy ignoring, and buying a rather large book to be told again that children should not drive motorized vehicles without adult supervision may not seem very tempting. But Myers covers such a wide range of situations that everyone's bound to find some tidbit of information they haven't seen addressed. The guidelines for climate-specific hazards and travel safety are especially useful, as travel can bring up a wide range of safety issues that never arise at home. If you're unsure about the safety of your own behavior or are looking for a large chunk of permanent advice to send off with your college-age kids, it could be useful to grab Live Safely in a Dangerous World: How to Beat the Odds of Dying in an Accident.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 20 December 2003

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