In (American) football, when the offensive team ends a down with the ball behind their own end zone line, the play is ruled a safety, and the defensive team is awarded two points. The offensive team then must either punt or kick the ball from their own 20-yard line to the defensive team.

The safety most often occurs when the quarterback or running back is tackled in his own end zone. However, a safety can also occur when a ball is batted through the back or side of the end zone. Players will occasionally do this on purpose during a loose ball scramble to keep the defensive team from scoring a touchdown. An intentional safety can also occur near the end of game when the winning team doesn't want to risk having a punt blocked, and feels that a free kick is more valuable than two points.

A safety is also awarded when a quarterback is called for intentional grounding in the end zone, or when any player is called for offensive holding in the end zone.

If that wasn't confusing enough, the safety is also the name of a defensive position on the field. The safety is part of the defensive backfield, furthest away from the line of scrimmage. The primary job of the safety is to assist the cornerbacks in pass coverage. In other schemes, safeties are asked to cover man-to-man, blitz the quarterback, or act as an additional run stopper.

In most defensive schemes, there are two safeties - the strong safety and free safety. The strong safety lines up on the "strong" side of the field (the side where the tight end lines up), and is usually a more physical player and a better tackler than the free safety. The free safety lines up on the opposite side of the field, and is generally allowed to roam more freely. The free safety is usually a better pass defender than the stong safety.

A safety is a mechanical device incorporated into disposable lighters designed to keep young children from setting themselves on fire. They also function to make your cigarette (or what have you) as difficult and frustrating to light as possible. No smoker buys a lighter with a safety built into it if they can possibly help it.

Safeties generally exist in two designs, one more aggravating than the other. The first is the trigger-stop method - a small piece of plastic is fitted beneath the lighter's fuel trigger that prevents it from being depressed without manually lifting the stop out of the way, usually by lifting a small lever with a thumbnail. The problem with this design is, if the fuel didn't ignite the first time through, you're forced to depress the lever every time you attempt to spark the lighter. This is frustrating to the extreme.

The second design, most commonly seen on Bic brand lighters and their ilk (the rounded lighters, not the square ones) consists of a strip of metal that guards the flint wheel, requiring more effort than a child can produce to strike a spark. No spark, no fire.

Safeties aren't nearly as prevalent as they used to be, but it's worth noting that, while they haven't disappeared completely, their design has changed slightly so that their removal has been made trivial, at least to an adult - most safeties, especially of the flint-wheel protection design, can be popped off with a housekey with minimal effort.

SAFETY is yet another of the myriad of mnemonics sometimes used in general aviation. I use SAFETY for briefing passengers when I'm flying in small planes. Although the potential informality of small aircraft is almost intoxicating when compared to the procedures and regulations of commercial flight, safety (hence the name!) is paramount, so it's always a good idea to make sure your pax know what to expect and how to behave. I generally go through this prior to engine start-up, when it's safest for me to be paying attention to the passenger.

Seatbelts - show them how to fasten, adjust and release the seatbelt (or have them demonstrate). I advise all my pax to leave their belts fastened at all times.

Air - show them how the cabin vents work. If it's cold out, explain that cabin heat will be available when the engine warms up, adjust as necessary, and ask them to either ask me to adjust it or make sure I'm watching, because the control on the Cessnas I usually fly is behind the right-hand control yoke.

Fire precautions - if available, show them where the fire extinguisher is. Instruct them not to use it unless I clearly tell them to, and reassure them that fire is incredibly unlikely.

Exit - show them how the door controls work (open, close, lock) and make sure they know that whenever exiting the airplane they should walk towards the rear because the prop is dangerous as all heck.

Traffic and Talk - encourage them to report anything they see in the air to me to make sure I know about it - birds, airplanes, superman, whatever. Also at this point I tend to go over the 'sterile cockpit' concept, and request they not talk to me until we have taken off and I have stated that I'm available to talk - so I don't get distracted from checklists or communications or of course flying the airplane. Later, when the engine is running, we'll set headset and intercom volumes as appropriate.

Your questions? - encourage questions!

Once I begin the startup checklist, other than asking them questions as part of that process, sterile cockpit should apply until climb-out at the earliest, or possibly until cruise.

In addition to the above, I like to tell new fliers what to expect. Something along the lines of "We're going to taxi to just short of the runway, and I'm going to stop to do a final check which will involve running up the engine. Once we're ready to go, I'll check with you to make sure you're ready, then I'll make a radio call. We'll taxi onto the runway and depart. It may seem like we're climbing at a high angle compared to a jetliner, but don't worry, that's normal. Now, in case something goes wrong during the roll, I'm going to abort the takeoff - just yank the power and brake us to a stop, we have more than enough runway. If something goes wrong immediately after takeoff, I will be determining whether to try to land on the runway, or whether I'll need to land straight ahead somewhere. If you try to talk to me and I'm busy, I'll hold up a finger to let you know - usually it means I'm listening to someone on the radio. Okay? Great, let's go flying!"

Safe"ty (?), n. [Cf. F. sauveté.]


The condition or state of being safe; freedom from danger or hazard; exemption from hurt, injury, or loss.

Up led by thee,
Into the heaven I have presumed,
An earthly guest . . . With like safety guided down,
Return me to my native element.


Freedom from whatever exposes one to danger or from liability to cause danger or harm; safeness; hence, the quality of making safe or secure, or of giving confidence, justifying trust, insuring against harm or loss, etc.

Would there were any safety in thy sex,
That I might put a thousand sorrows off,
And credit thy repentance!
Beau. & Fl.


Preservation from escape; close custody.

Imprison him, . . .
Deliver him to safety; and return.

4. (Football)

Same as Safety touchdown, below.

Safety arch (Arch.), a discharging arch. See under Discharge, v. t. --
Safety belt, a belt made of some buoyant material, or which is capable of being inflated, so as to enable a person to float in water; a life preserver. --
Safety buoy, a buoy to enable a person to float in water; a safety belt. --
Safety cage (Mach.), a cage for an elevator or mine lift, having appliances to prevent it from dropping if the lifting rope should break. --
Safety lamp. (Mining) See under Lamp. --
Safety match, a match which can be ignited only on a surface specially prepared for the purpose. --
Safety pin, a pin made in the form of a clasp, with a guard covering its point so that it will not prick the wearer. --
Safety plug. See Fusible plug, under Fusible. --
Safety switch. See Switch. --
Safety touchdown (Football), the act or result of a player's touching to the ground behind his own goal line a ball which received its last impulse from a man on his own side; -- distinguished from touchback. See Touchdown. --
Safety tube (Chem.), a tube to prevent explosion, or to control delivery of gases by an automatic valvular connection with the outer air; especially, a bent funnel tube with bulbs for adding those reagents which produce unpleasant fumes or violent effervescence. --
Safety valve, a valve which is held shut by a spring or weight and opens automatically to permit the escape of steam, or confined gas, water, etc., from a boiler, or other vessel, when the pressure becomes too great for safety; also, sometimes, a similar valve opening inward to admit air to a vessel in which the pressure is less than that of the atmosphere, to prevent collapse.


© Webster 1913

Safe"ty (?), n.

(a) (Amer. Football)

A safety touchdown.


Short for Safety bicycle.


© Webster 1913

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