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Safety and the movies: Jurassic Park

By Matt King

A cup of still water sits on the dashboard. Then, suddenly, a thump erupts in the distance, and the water in the cup moves, a single ripple appearing. Then another thump, another ripple before a sudden screeching growl and what seems like a wall of reptilian skin announce the arrival of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

This is a scene from Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, which was originally released 20 years ago, but is now playing in theatres in 3D. The story of a paleontologist who is whisked away by a mysterious benefactor who asks him to go to his mysterious island where dinosaurs come to life!

Now, a theme park has a number of hazards to begin with, but this park also has enormous dinosaurs and vicious carnivorous beasts that want nothing but to hunt you down and kill you. If we are talking safety, then the first mistake in the film is the very creation of the park itself. But aside from that fundamental issue, there are a number of other things to look out for, so sit back, relax and join me for a safety adventure 65 million years in the making.

1. When working directly with electricity, make sure the power is off…

At one point in the film, when they are running from the dinosaurs that have inevitably escaped their enclosures and are on the loose, Dr. Alan Grant (played by Sam Neill) and Tim and Lex, the grandkids of Richard Attenborough’s crazed dinopark tycoon, are forced to climb an electric fence. Smartly, Dr. Grant tests the fence first with a piece of wood, making sure it is off. Unfortunately, they don’t have control of it and so, while Lex and Dr. Grant get down safely, little ol’ Tim is still near the top of the fence when suddenly the power is turned back on and he is sent flying. All is well in the end, but seriously, it is not a good idea to climb a large electric fence when you have no control over the electric part of it. It can cause serious damage and death. So when working with electricity, be certain that the power is off.

2. If working with dangerous animals, be especially aware of your surroundings…

If you’ve seen the movie, you might be thinking this is where I’ll talk about when Robert Muldoon is ambushed by a few velociraptors, or maybe when Newman from Seinfeld is surprised by a creepy poisonous beast of his own. But no, the scene that shocked me the most when it comes to being aware of one’s surroundings was the scene when Dr. Alan Grant first sees the dinosaurs. He sees a group of brachiosauruses and immediately hops out of the vehicle running towards them. He, as well as Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, are in awe of this enormous animal. But the thing is they don’t seem to think that the enormous animal could hurt them. Yes, a brachiosaurus is an herbivore, but they are also, as I mentioned, ENORMOUS. They wouldn’t notice stepping on these tiny humans. Hopping out of the vehicle like Dr. Grant does is dangerous and, when working with unsafe, unpredictable animals, you NEED to be aware of your surroundings and your animals.

3. When faced with oncoming traffic, get out of the way…

Here’s a situation: you are working in a warehouse and you see a forklift coming at you. Do you, A) walk in the same path that the forklift is going, or B) get out of its way? Of course, you get out of its way. Following the same path the forklift is going just keeps you in the way of the forklift, and keeps you in the way of danger. Well, here’s where Dr. Alan Grant goes wrong when he sees a herd of an ostrich-like dinosaur. When the flock comes barreling towards them, instead of going in a different direction, away from the large group of animals, they run in the same direction these fast beasts are going. This doesn’t make sense, safety-wise, and so, whether it’s a car or a forklift or a herd of raging dinosaurs, make sure you act defensively and get out of the way of danger.

*****

Jurassic Park, that is the park that’s in the movie of the same name, is an inherently dangerous place. No one should ever do this. Thankfully, I’m pretty sure it’s not possible. But no matter what, when I have a cup of water and it ripples, I always make sure to look around for any dinosaurs.

As always, work smart, work safe.

*****

BONUS: Here is Screen Junkies’ Honest Trailer for Jurassic Park 3D. It’s a pretty fair assessment, I’d say.

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