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There’s kind of climbing that is deadlier than mountain climbing. And what's more, it's a kind of climbing you do often. I'm referring to the commonest kind of climbing in the world—the climbing of stairs.
We do all we can to build stairs safely. Our stairs have hand rails. The stairs aren't too steep, and they are well lighted. They have treads that aren't slick and slippery. Yet even stairs like these can kill and cripple if we don't use them right.
For instance, the best hand rail in the world won't prevent a fall if you don't use it. I know it is easy to forget. We look at a flight of stairs, and it looks safe. We can walk up and down it time after time without any trouble, even without holding on. So we are likely to get careless and ignore the rail.
Yet we all know that sooner or later there comes a time when we slip or stumble or someone bumps into us. And then whether we have a hand grip or not may make the difference between good health and a broken neck. Remember, the hand rail is just like the seat belt. Mostly you don't need it, but sooner or later it becomes a life saver.
Good lighting helps us in our stair climbing, but it won't help us if we refuse to use our eyes. I have walked down stairs in complete darkness — but I did it very slowly, cautiously, hanging on for dear life. Yet many a worker forgets to use his eyes when he is on the stairs, and so he might just as well be in darkness — might better, as a matter of fact, for then he'd know he had danger to deal with.
If we don't watch ourselves, we may fall on the top step and crash. Or we may bang into someone else who isn't looking, and send ourselves and our friend spinning. Or we may slip or stumble on some object left carelessly on the stairs.
Finally, stairs are made for walking, not running. Trying to be a speeder on stairs may save a few seconds, but, like speeding on the highway, it can be deadly. So, for real time and health saving, take time going up and going down.
On every trip on every stairway — at home, in the plant, and everywhere else, keep safe, by following these three rules:
First, always keep one hand on the hand rail.
Second, always keep your eyes open and your mind alert.
Third, walk, don't run, on every stair.
If you'll follow these rules, our stairs will be what stairs should be — a safe road from one floor to another, not a highway to hazards and the hospital.
If you want to take a chance and do some adventurous climbing, take a vacation in the Rockies next summer, or get a job as a steeple jack.
But even then — on the riskiest of mountain climbs or high flagpole work, you won't escape the truth that all good climbers know — the truth that good climbing means hanging on, looking out, and taking your time.
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