Skip to content

Can You Make Safety Sound Fun?

At a park in beautiful Florida this week, I found a great play structure in the shape of a ship. A safety brochure covered the rules (below).

Challenge: Can you revise the rules so they make safety sound cool, with a focus on safe fun rather than on regulations? After all, it’s a play structure, not a prison.

Suggestions: Turn negative statements to positive or neutral, communicate calmly, and focus on what TO do rather than what NOT to do.

I included a typed version to work with.



NO unattended children!

Play at your own risk!

Play area intended for children 2-12 years of age!

Remove all loose cords, belts, ties or ribbons from clothing or hats!

NO bare feet!

Proper footwear required!

NO food or drink on the structure!

NO running, pushing, or shoving!

NO climbing on the trees!


I will post my revision tomorrow after the long flight home.

Have fun!


Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

8 comments on “Can You Make Safety Sound Fun?”

  • One of my favorite signs ever was in a children’s museum gift shop: Unattended children will be given a large bag of cotton candy and a puppy.
    Got the point across in a fun manner. I did not notice any unsupervised children!

  • What a fun exercise! Here’s my revision:

    “Ship Rules”

    Please make sure a parent or guardian is around.

    If you’re between 2 years old and 12 years old, come play!

    Be careful of loose cords, belts, ties or ribbons from clothing or hats.

    Please keep your shoes on at all times.

    Please enjoy food or drink at the picnic tables, not on the ship.

    Play safely and kindly- please don’t run, push, or shove.

    Please climb on the ship only, not the trees.

    And most of all, have fun!!

    Finally, I would add in fine print at the bottom that the property owners are not liable for any injury- kids don’t need to know about that, just litigious parents:)

  • Lisa, nice! I like what you have done. Your rules have a very positive, welcoming feeling with expressions such as “come play,” “enjoy,” and “kindly.”

    Below is my version. I thought about the parents and guardians of the children and decided to try another approach, including some hints that would help them manage the children’s behavior.

    I don’t think I achieved the goal of making safety sound fun. But I may have succeeded in helping the adults by giving reasons for some of the rules.

    Captain’s Rules for Safe Fun
    • Play here if you are 2-12 years old.
    • Have an adult or guardian with you.
    • Take off ties, ribbons, and loose clothes that might get caught on the ship.
    • Keep your shoes on. The ship can scrape bare feet.
    • Eat and drink at the picnic tables, not the ship. Sticky decks attract bees.
    • Play nicely. The captain does not allow running, pushing, or shoving.
    • Climb on the ship, not on the trees.
    Have fun!

    I’m going to sit with this for a day and decide about changes.


  • This reminds me of a sign in my local drugstore:

    Shoplifters here will be given a free ride… to the town lockup, courtesy of our local officers.

    Something like that, at least. It sure made me laugh the first time I saw it. A friendly tone for a stern message.

    Marcia Yudkin

  • In Cambodia, sometimes we say this to unattended children’s parents…”Parents of unattended kid shall have a free cup of tea with the principal (captain)” In our culture, having a tea with a top-ranking person meaning being punished or receiving disciplinary measures.

    Hope this makes sense to you all…

    Mades MEAS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *