Safety Lesson 1 – Check Santa’s Constitution
As a child I lived across the road from a carpet factory. This huge factory had a wide paddock next door that, for a time, had two golf fairways and greens and a chicken farm. This paddock was the scene of the annual Christmas Party and, although my parents had no association with the factory, some of the neighbourhood kids wangled our way into the work’s Christmas Party.
One year the company chose to have Santa arrive by helicopter. We could hear the noise from some way off and a landing site in the paddock had been roped off. It didn’t take long for the noise from the children, already hyperactive on sugary drinks in a hot Australian Summer, to match the helicopter’s noise as the children ran to the roped area.
The helicopter lands, the propellers wind down as the children’s cheering increases. Santa is waving from the cabin and grabs his sack of toys from the back of the helicopter. He opens the door, the children go wild, and Santa vomits. The children at the back keep cheering as the children at the ropes back slightly away with a large “Yeeeeurgh” and the occasional “Aw, Gross”.
Not only did the children, that day, learn of the perils of air flight but also that Santa doesn’t chew his food very well.
Safety Lesson: Know your limits.
Safety Lesson 2 – Check Santa’s Cardio
Santa’s are a seasonal fixture in shopping centres for the month of December. Usually he is located in a grotto or a sleigh. Nowadays, he has a large support group of elves and crowd controllers but things were simpler in the 1970s. The shopping centre was much smaller but still had to promote the Christmas vibe.
One Christmas, the centre’s management decided to have Santa’s arrival at the shopping centre as the big event to launch their Christmas campaign. But having Santa simply walk in with his sack of toys over his shoulder was not enough. Kids love animals so Santa needed some animals but Australia is not big on reindeers, especially in Summer.
The children were assembled at the designated time, sitting on mats or the floor inside a large atrium in the shopping centre. The doors were staying closed so that the air-conditioned comfort wouldn’t leach out in the hot North winds outside. The childrens’ noise was a burble carefully controlled by Santa’s helpers but gradually increased as word passed round that Santa was nearby. Cheers erupted when someone caught a glimpse of Santa in the car park. The volume grew as a sweaty Santa stepped through the automatic doors into the cool atrium while holding two leashes attached to the collars of two Great Danes adorned with fake reindeer antlers.
The children screamed “Santa”, the dogs looked perplexed, Santa waved and dropped dead, without letting go of the dogs.
As with most incidents there is a short period of silence but when Santa fell, every child was silent. Santa’s helpers looked at each other until one stepped forward to see if Santa was alright. He wasn’t. Nor were the helpers who quickly realised that someone needed to explain to hundreds of children what had just happened. What do you say when Santa has died in such a public way?
Safety Lesson: Don’t dress in a full padded Santa suit in a hot Australian Summer. Dress for the occasion and the work environment.
Merry Christmas to the SafetyAtWorkBlog readers and thank you for all your support. Safety articles will continued through 2016.