- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Washington has been enveloped in an oppressive mass of sober-minded admonishments pushing out of the local television newsrooms this week.

The warnings have been more stifling than the heat, starting with the following: Stay hydrated.

Washingtonians apparently were a lot smarter back in the day. They knew to down a glass of water if they became thirsty.

They also knew not to wear a ski mask in this stifling weather unless they were planning to rob a bank. Washingtonians just had this amazing capacity to figure stuff out like that all on their own at one time.

But today Washingtonians require a multistep plan from health experts to stay hydrated.

Step 1: Press down on the button to the right of the water fountain.

Step 2: Bend head to lap up the precious contents.

Step 3: Drink slowly. If not, you could choke.

And if you start choking, you could choke to death. And if you choke to death, the local news teams will be on hand to report this shocking development, complete with a water-replenishment expert demonstrating how to properly consume fluids.

You also are not supposed to go outside unless you have lathered your skin in copious amounts of sunscreen. Otherwise, you are liable to come down with instant melanoma or, at the very least, end up with the skin of a blue-haired fussbudget from South Florida.

It is not just Washingtonians who seemingly have lower IQ scores than previous generations.

Not too long ago, you knew, almost instinctively, that it probably was not wise to stick your hand under a lawn mower while it was in operation. Somewhere along the way, we lost that instinct.

Now lawn mowers come with warning labels attesting to the danger of trying to remove freshly cut grass from a blade whirring in furious fashion.

There are warnings like that all over the place nowadays.

You pick up your clothes at the dry cleaners, and the plastic wrapping carries an urgent message: Do not wrap the plastic around your face, for it will restrict your breathing and lead to a slow death.

You go out to eat, and the server tells you the plate is hot, the food is hot, the knife is sharp, and the fork could poke out the eye of your companion if wielded improperly.

You just can’t take anything for granted.

You park your automobile in a garage, and there is a sign that reads: “We are not responsible for any lost or stolen items.”

You just sort of assumed that, not unlike if you went to the park and saw a sign that read: “We are not responsible for any muggings, poison ivy or rabid raccoons.”

You hang blinds in your home, but not before reading the advisory that states not to step onto a chair, wrap the cord around your throat and then jump off the chair.

Ben-Gay is for external use only.

If you quench your thirst with wood polish, do not induce vomiting. Call a physician, and press 1 for English, press 2 for Spanish, press 3 for prenatal care, press 4 for back pain and press 5 for wood polish.

You should not apply hand lotion or paint thinner to a deep puncture wound.

If you are hungry, you should eat, preferably berries and nuts.

If you are fatigued, you should rest.

If you are upset, you should count to 10.

If you try to wrestle the rapids around Great Falls in a kayak, you should wear a life preserver and have your estate in order.

Seriously, it has been an arduous week, especially for those suffering from upper-respiratory infections. To hear the health experts tell it, those folks are basically out of luck in this weather.

Thankfully, relief is said to be on the way today.

Regardless, please remember to stay hydrated.

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