Classic Movie Safety Fails
Can you guess the hidden safety mistakes in these iconic Hollywood blockbusters?
We expect to see some crazy, and crazy-dangerous, things in Hollywood flicks — flying leaps from speeding trains, nausea-inducing car chases, things blowing up left and right. From Indiana Jones’ wacky white-knuckle feats to, well, just about anything from the Fast and Furious franchise, it’s a wild world on screen, just the way some people like it.
But it’s the smaller, insidious dangers that may go by unnoticed by viewers.
We picked out nine examples of when Hollywood showed characters making some stupid safety mistakes.
1. "Top Gun"
Tom Cruise may have looked the part of pretty (and pretty cocky) flyboy, but his character, Navy pilot Maverick, was just plain dumb for not wearing a helmet when he sped down the road on his motorcycle. In 20 states, riding without a helmet is against the law. In 28 states, people under a certain age (from 17 to 20) must wear a helmet. Only three states — Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire — have no motorcycle helmet laws.
2. "Look Who's Talking"
In this 1980s classic, John Travolta’s character, a cab driver, makes two mistakes when putting Mikey the baby in his taxi: He puts the baby’s car seat in the front seat and faces it forward. If they got in an accident, the baby could have been launched straight through the front window. We now know that babies go in the back seat in rear-facing car seats .
Related: Quiz: Test Your Baby Safety IQ
3. "Cast Away"
In the pivotal airplane crash scene that ends up stranding Tom Hanks’s character, Chuck Noland, on a remote, uninhabited island, Chuck isn’t wearing his seat belt. Another passenger has to help him get buckled as the plane plummets. He also doesn’t take out his life jacket and put it on until someone else does it for him. With the amount of flying Chuck did as part of his FedEx manager job, you’d think he would have paid attention during the pre-flight safety demonstrations. (But he earns points for eventually figuring out how to start a fire, open a coconut, spear fish, build a raft and knock out an aching tooth with the blade of an ice skate.)
4. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”
In this Christmas classic, Clark Griswold is determined to have the best Christmas decor in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, when he puts up 25,000 twinkle lights, he plugs way too many strands of lights into one electrical strip, causing a blackout for the whole neighborhood … except his house. Not a good way to spread Christmas cheer. (He also forgets to bring an axe or saw when he goes to chop down a Christmas tree. Worse, Cousin Eddie’s dog drinks the water in the tree stand, drying out the tree — a major safety fail — which is later set on fire by the uncle’s cigar.)
Your Holiday Decor
5. “Parent Trap”
Long-lost twin sisters, both played by Lindsay Lohan, meet at summer camp in this 1998 remake of a classic family favorite. But in one scene parents may find cringe-inducing, one sister pierces the other’s ear using a needle, apple, ice and a flame (to sterilize the needle).
The American Academy of Family Physicians has guidelines on how to make sure piercings are sanitary — and none of them involve apples or sterilizing a needle with a match. (Bottom line: Let a professional do it.)
The first-ever summer blockbuster opens with a young woman swimming alone in the ocean at dawn. (Does she not know the title of the film?) Sharks are known to hunt at dawn and dusk. And hunt the shark did.
If you’ve ever in the water and the boat or shore is far away, stay as still as possible and hope the shark ignores you (you can’t out-swim a shark). Splashing around shows fear and attracts sharks. Sharks often attack from behind, so never turn your back on one.
On a side note, the classic line, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” was actually ad-libbed by Roy Scheider according to imdb.com.
7. “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”
After a stressful day of missing flights home for Thanksgiving, Del (played by John Candy) rents a car to drive the distance and Neal (played by Steve Martin), having no better option, begrudgingly rides along with him. But Del, a blabbermouth shower curtain ring salesman with poor hygiene, is driving while sleepy. He drives down the wrong side of the highway and the men are nearly killed when two tractor-trailer trucks narrowly pass on either side of their car. (Del also sets the cars on fire with a cigarette he failed to extinguish.)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to pull over to change drivers or rest if you find yourself yawning or blinking frequently, drifting from your lane, hitting the rumble strip or missing your exit.
Related: 12 Tips for Safer Nighttime Driving
8. "The Breakfast Club"
When Ally Sheedy's character steals Emilio Estevez’s wallet, she learns his Social Security number (SSN). This means he was either carrying his social security card in his wallet, or he had his SSN on his license. While this was common in the 1980s, the government no longer uses SSNs on driver’s licenses in order to prevent identity theft. Never carry your social security card with you unless you need it just that one day, like when you start a new job.
Sacré bleu! Is that a rat in the kitchen? Yes, “Ratatouille” is the story of a rat who can cook and secretly works in a French restaurant. While the rat does “wash up” and clean his paws, the rest of his body could certainly carry disease and make restaurant customers sick. Somebody call the health inspector!