By Mordechai Schmutter

As a tradition, we in the newspaper industry have taken it upon ourselves to keep reminding you of all the things that can possibly kill you, lo aleinu. Don’t thank us; that’s just our job. But you might have noticed that we run way more of those during the summer.

We also run plenty of safety articles during the winter, but most of those involve how to avoid disease, because in the winter, we spend most of our time in cramped quarters with other people who think absolutely nothing of making trumpet noises into a tissue directly into our ear. Society has, for some reason, deemed this okay. But in the summer, the safety articles are a lot more varied. Here’s why:

1. During the summer, people are massively bored. Summer brings boredom, and boredom brings trying to do things that you might not normally try, because “Sure, I have time to go to the hospital.” Like the recent story of the man in England who called 999 (the British 911) after gluing five plastic cups to his head.

I know. Don’t you hate when that happens?

He told the operator that it happened by accident. Really? You don’t glue five cups to your head by accident. Two or three, maybe. Maybe you can start with a couple, but if you see you can’t get them off, you should stop gluing cups to your head.

“Hello, operator? I have cups glued to my head.”


“Five. Can you please send help? Also, I think the phone is stuck to my hand. And now my face.”

But obviously, he needed them off. If you only have one cup glued to your head, you can just walk around that way, and whenever someone looks at you, you can grab the cup and pretend that’s just where you’re holding it at the moment. But it’s hard to do that with five.

The article doesn’t say why he did this, but we’re left to imagine: Did he fall face-first onto a craft project? So obviously, the answer is “boredom.” He had glue and he had cups, and he figured, “Why not?”

I’m also trying to imagine why he called 911. It’s not an emergency, unless he glued them over his nose and mouth, which I’m assuming he didn’t, because the operator wouldn’t have been able to understand him.

“Mff? Mm mm hmm mm ff.”

“Again? How many this time?

So why couldn’t he get himself to the hospital? He’s so bored that he glues five cups to his head, but suddenly he doesn’t have time to wait for the bus?

2. The animals are all out of hibernation. Take the story of a bear that wandered into a residential neighborhood in Arkansas and got stuck in a tree. I don’t know if he was actually stuck, but according to the AP article I read, “The bear wouldn’t come down.”

Well, I don’t see what the problem was, then. Maybe parking under it.

But I could see the problem. We have the noisiest birds ever living in a tree right outside our house. We sleep with the windows open, and all night long they’re chirping. I’ve heard other people on the block discussing those birds. They’re driving everybody crazy. So I could see why it might be hard to fall asleep with a bear outside your window.

So the neighbors called the fire department. Firefighters are always getting cats out of trees, so why would bears be any different?

Maybe because the way they get cats out of trees is they send up a guy in a cherry picker, and he brings it down. They had problems finding someone to volunteer to do that with a bear.

The first thing the firefighters did was rent two bouncy houses. You know those big cushion things that kids jump on at carnivals? They don’t let adults into those things, but let’s drop a bear on it from a tree. Were there no trampolines available? Or did they not want the bear bouncing back over someone’s fence?

“Hello? We’d like to rent a bouncy house. Maybe two? What do you recommend?”

“That depends. How many kids?”

“No kids. Just a bear.”

Once they got the houses blown up, someone shot the bear with a tranquilizer dart, being very careful not to hit the bouncy houses. But the bear passed out over a tree branch, and was still stuck up there. And no one was willing to go up there and wake it up so they could try again. So the firemen, naturally, blasted it out of the tree with a fire hose.

I bet they never do this to cats. But maybe we should try it with the birds.

3. People try their hand at home repairs. This is a common summer injury, although Jews also get these right before Sukkos.

Take a Reuters article, titled “Police Rescue 91-Year-Old Man Glued to Roof.”

Who would glue a 91-year-old man to a roof? Maybe they were bored.

It turns out a 91-year-old man in Germany was spreading tar on his roof, when he slipped and fell. So that was an accident.

I don’t blame him for getting out there. In my experience, roofers are really scared to go up on roofs, and will only go up if the money is worth the risk. We had pigeons in our attic once, and no one wanted to climb up to our soffit and close the hole. It wasn’t even like we had bears. But roofers pay a lot of insurance, and it’s risky. You could slip and get stuck, and you’ll be there for days. Though, to be honest, it’s better than slipping and not getting stuck. But still, no one will want to go up to get you down. They’d have to set up bouncy houses, and powerwash you off the roof.

4. People spend more time in the park. Parks are dangerous. Take the 21-year-old man in Vallejo, CA, who was in the playground with his friends–you know, hanging out, I guess. Playing cops and robbers; I don’t know. His friends bet him $100 that he couldn’t fit himself into a toddler swing–the hard rubber kind that has four leg holes, in case you maybe have a baby octopus. But he sure proved them wrong. He went home, got some liquid laundry detergent, rubbed it on his legs, and slid right in.

“I won the bet!” he said, before realizing that he couldn’t get out.

“You sure did!” his friends said. And they left him there. Maybe they gave him a little push for good measure. “You’re getting 100 bucks; earn it.”

I’m impressed. I can’t even get into a baby swing with a whole bottle of laundry detergent. So I can definitely see why he was stuck. I go to the park with my kids, and the whole thing is like a big booby trap for adults. I’ve gotten stuck in the twirly slides, for example. The twirls are too tight, and I don’t bend that way. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve slammed my head into the monkey bars while chasing a two-year-old. (I can’t tell you because I don’t remember.) And when I try getting my kids out of those swings, it’s not easy either, because I have a hand under each arm, and their shoes get stuck, and I try to raise my arms higher and higher to get them unstuck, but the swing just follows me up.

So the guy had to spend the night in a baby swing, covered in laundry detergent. In the morning, the groundskeeper came to the park to find the most upset person he’d ever seen in a baby swing. He called the fire department, because there’s no “Geniuses Getting Stuck in Swings Department.” By then the guy’s legs were swollen, so even they couldn’t get him out. So they shot him with tranq darts and turned the hose on him. But that just made suds.

Okay, that’s not what happened. They cut the chains and brought him to the hospital, where surgeons used a cast cutter to get it off. My point is that even swings are dangerous. So maybe stay inside with the trumpet blowers. v

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of four books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here