Elf & Safety

I think the padlocks say a lot about the difference between Europe and South America. Having lived for a number of years in London where Health and Safety has reached a point of absurdum, I should know. I lived and worked for two years in a boarding school in north London, where the kids weren’t allowed to cook, because of the “dangers” it brought, or even to have decorative lights in their rooms, because of the fire hazard. No wonder they left without essential knowledge about life.

And so Brazil. Where tiny babies happily are travelling with two or three adults on a motorbike, all without helmet of course, at a worrying speed (and to compare that to European parents that refuse to put their child in a car unless there’s a child seat for them); where there very often are no proper pavements (or where there are, they are occupied by various shops and fast food trolleys), forcing the pedestrians out on the street.

I once discussed the padlocks on everyman’s door with a friend in Bragança. She said that it is necessary to lock oneself in properly, as there’s a high risk of break-ins (which of course is true in many places in Europe), and when I asked what would happen in the event of a fire she just looked at me blankly. What if you cannot find the key? (Which is very often the case in Aurimar’s house.)  It had never occurred to her that it might be a danger for oneself not to be able to get out. I’m also thinking about the club fire the other week in south Brazil, where more than 300 people died as all the doors were closed to avoid people getting in without paying. Also, all the windows have steel bars in front of them, for the very same reasons. So if you’re caught in a fire you’re pretty much toast (no pun intended…).

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Categories: February 2013 | Leave a comment

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