Hazard symbols or warning symbols are recognizable symbols designed to warn about hazardous materials, locations, or objects, including electric currents, poisons, and radioactivity. The use of hazard symbols is often regulated by law and directed by standards organizations. Hazard symbols may appear with different colors, backgrounds, borders and supplemental information in order to specify the type of hazard. Warning symbols are used in many places in lieu of or addition to written warnings as they are quickly recognized (faster than reading a written warning) and more universally understood (the same symbol can be recognized as having the same meaning to speakers of different languages).
The skull-and-crossbones symbol (☠), consisting of a human skull and two bones crossed together behind the skull, is today generally used as a warning of danger, particularly in regard to poisonous substances.
The symbol, or some variation thereof, specifically with the bones (or swords) below the skull, was also featured on the Jolly Roger, the traditional flag of European and American seagoing pirates. It is also part of the Canadian WHMIS home symbols placed on containers to warn that the contents are poisonous.
In the United States, due to concerns that the skull-and-crossbones symbol's association with pirates might encourage children to play with toxic materials, the Mr. Yuk symbol is also used to denote poison.
Source: Hazard symbol from Wikipedia
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