Thursday, July 7, 2011

Common Safety Measures Invention

No matter how safe we feel in our own lives, every day brings with it another opportunity for an unprecedented and possibly fatal accident -- be it a Mother Nature-induced natural disaster such as an earthquake or tsunami, or a more personal event such as a car accident or life-threatening medical diagnosis.

While it leaves one feeling uneasy to ponder the various things that could possibly damage our personal well-being at a moment’s notice, our modern society can take comfort in knowing that we are, quite frankly, significantly safer in this generation than we were centuries ago. Top Public Safety Innovations examines the inventions that have been instrumental in making us feel more secure and affording us a higher quality of life.Advertisement

Life Preservers

For anyone who takes a cruise or a ferry trip on a regular basis, the sight of a life jacket is to be expected. First created in 1854 by Englishman Captain Ward before being adapted into inflatable devices by Peter Markus in 1928, life preservers are now commonplace in preventing drowning deaths of adults and children on both commercial ships and private boats. It’s worth noting that the inflatable shape of early life preservers was ample enough in the chest area to warrant the nickname Mae West, in recognition of the classic bosomy actress.

Fire Extinguisher

The earliest fire extinguishers -- first developed by Ambrose Godfrey and then retooled by George William Manby -- were used to combat fires in 18th- and 19th-century England. Over the course of their substantial evolution -- which initially featured ingredients like gunpowder, but now contain water, foam or carbon dioxide -- these familiar red contraptions have become safety staples in places such as residential dwellings, offices and restaurants. While no fire extinguisher can offer the advanced technology a local fire department provides, they have still provided accessible, effective protection against small fires that was never available before.


When French scientist Louis Pasteur developed the art of pasteurization, he was hoping to extend the shelf life of beer and wine. Good man. By perfecting the process of using high-heat and fast-cooling action to keep harmful pathogens under control, his original handiwork has since been applied to dairy products, juices, canned products, and even water. Besides allowing the important things -- like beer -- to taste better, pasteurization has been innovative in protecting people from acquiring scarlet fever, typhoid fever, listeriosis, and diphtheria through food and beverage consumption. 


No matter how easily a helmet can bring on a case of bad hair, not wearing one can just as easily bring on a case of serious injury. First worn for protection by soldiers in ancient times, helmets are still worn during modern warfare while also showing up in everything from sports to construction. Also popular for riders traveling by motorcycle and bicycle, helmets offer an extra layer of security that is invaluable to their well-being and safety on the road. 


Humans first experimented with food conservation through cooling centuries ago by using ice and snow inside caves. Following the efforts of pioneers William Cullen, Benjamin Franklin and Carl von Linde, refrigerators infiltrated households in the early 20th century. The health benefits of a fridge are numerous, starting with the healthier diets that are possible from refrigerating fruits and vegetables year-round. Additionally, we can thank refrigeration for allowing us to enjoy sushi, as cool preservation was the key to eliminating sushi’s early hepatitis A health risks. 


We have come a long way since Sigmund Freud suggested that Karl Koller employ cocaine as a local anesthetic and Crawford Long instituted diethyl ether as the operation drug of choice. The advances in anesthesia along with the teamwork of nurses and doctors have made surgery safer for patients who are under the knife, making it less of a life-threatening risk and more of a live-saving procedure. By keeping the focus on the patient and reducing surgical risks, modern anesthesia has prolonged the lives of millions by allowing surgeons to successfully treat countless injuries and conditions at a moment’s notice.   


Through their individual efforts, Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur transformed society by moving it away from inoculation and into the era of vaccination. Initially introduced in the 18th century and popularized in 19th-century medicine, vaccines changed the course of the health industry by encouraging the prevention of diseases in the human body before they could start. While not without occasional flares of controversy, vaccines can still be credited with protecting humans against the dangers of otherwise deadly conditions like polio, smallpox, measles, and rubella.Advertisement

Tap Water

Water is the primary essence that allows us to live, which makes the ability to access clean drinking water a vital component for human survival. Perhaps the greatest benefit of the indoor plumbing revolution of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in developed countries was the introduction of tap water. Besides giving humans water they could use for cleaning and food preparation, clean tap water provides essential fluids while preventing waterborne illnesses. As an example of how important safe tap water is, one can simply observe the challenges and health problems endured by those living in countries without it.Advertisement

911 Emergency Service

The evolution of telephones has gone hand in hand with the changes in how we summon emergency help. During the prerotary phone era, operators patched callers through to authorities, but the invention of rotary dialing necessitated a new approach. The answer came in 1937, when a single emergency phone number -- 999 -- was developed in England. AT&T spearheaded a similar technology across the United States in 1968. The institution of 911 has streamlined emergency services and saved millions of lives by immediately connecting people to the appropriate authorities in times of danger.  


Being a soap salesman, Fight Club’s Tyler Durden would tell you that there’s no greater universal safety innovation than soap. When coupled with hand washing, soap is critical to protecting the body from bacteria. The one-two punch of William Shepphard’s pioneering liquid soap and dispenser has allowed soap to do its job almost anywhere and everywhere we get the urge to clean up, keeping humans healthier in the process.

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