RE: Using a warning notice for Television Owner's Manuals

Subject: RE: Using a warning notice for Television Owner's Manuals
From: "Nuckols, Kenneth M" <Kenneth -dot- Nuckols -at- mybrighthouse -dot- com>
To: <eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com>, "Bill Swallow" <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2006 15:28:03 -0400

Eric Dunn said...

> > caution - you could screw something up
> > warning - you could harm the device or yourself
> > danger - do you have a death wish?
> It's not just a "trend". I believe that follows ISO or European
> But, I'd add:
> Note - This might help
> To the top of the list.
> The only question I'd have is about the warning. Our standard is that
> warning is reserved for injury or death (we don't use danger) and
> is used for equipment damage. Otherwise, how to differentiate between
> "screwing something up" and "harming the device"?

We use the following terms regularly:

Note: A procedural emphasis - usually something regarding preparation
for a process or a reminder that some bit of information recorded here
will be used later for another purpose

Caution: A hazard to a piece of equipment or property - a potential for
an electrical short, water damage, or some other danger to the equipment
but not the user / installer / technician; for installation instructions
this can also include information on how to avoid wasting hardware (like
outlets or weatherproof seals) and drilling unnecessary holes in masonry
or drywall that must be repaired

Warning: A hazard to a person - a potential danger to a user / installer
/ technician either by dropping something on them, electrical shock, or
some other potentially dangerous situation

To answer Eric's query about the difference between "screwing something
up" and "harming the device" I would say this. "Screwing something up"
to me would indicate something that takes extra work and effort to
undo--therefore I would put that in a "Note" to help the reader save
time. If it involves potential harm to the device, it would be a

We also avoid using "Danger" because of the psychological connotation:
while we need to "warn" users and technicians about the fact that harm
can come from extreme misuse and abuse of equipment, we don't offer any
products or services that are in and of themselves "dangerous."

I suppose it's a bit nitpicky, but I would say that a DVR or a cable
modem is not "dangerous" in the way that a lawn edger is "dangerous."
Under normal operating conditions, a lawn edger can cause serious injury
to a user not wearing safety goggles if the blade kicks up a chip of
concrete, a small pebble, a twig, or some other bit of debris into the
user's eye. By contrast, under normal operating conditions there is
almost no way an installer / technician / user could be injured by a DVR
or cable modem, no matter what they do. It is a good idea to "warn"
installers / technicians / users about common sense hazards (heat
output, use of electrical devices in the bathroom, etc.), but those are
not "dangers" that would come up during the course of normal day-to-day

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