Warning: Sad Pumpkins Should Avoid Hair Rubberbands

Goody hair bands pictorial warningPictorial warnings are intended to explain product dangers in a universal symbol or picture that can be universally understood even by people who cannot read or who speak and read a different language.

Unfortunately, coherently explaining product risks usually is hard to do in a single image. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but product warnings can be better explained in words (unfortunately, many litigation risk-averse product makers insist on using the full thousand or more, but that’s a different issue).

Here we have a pictorial warning about hair rubberbands. As the written part of the pictured warning shows (all thumbnails are expandable), they can present a choking hazard to young children. But what if one can’t read the printed warning?  That’s where the symbol warning against use by children under three comes in.

But wouldn’t it be easy to do and more effective to create a symbol that looked more like a child and less like a melancholy pumpkin?

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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