Monday, October 27, 2003

Household hazards

I've looked at most of these worst-case scenario survival books and to my knowledge none of them deal with certain humble household hazards. So as a public service I'll submit the following. Perhaps I should forward them to the authors of the aforementioned books for future inclusion.

I have yet to meet a woman who 1) I've heard complain about people leaving the toilet seat up AND 2) who had any chance of getting her own behind stuck or wet as a result. But I do know from experience that one can become stuck in the throne. And if this happens, you are fairly helpless because usually you have no leverage and there's nothing to grab. And although you'd probably prefer to deal with the situation yourself, if you want help you're probably not even able to unlock the door to let them in.

If said tragedy should ever occur and I'm not there to rescue you personally, kindly note that there could be a vacuum between you and the commode that will make it much harder to escape (that's why the seat is elevated on those little legs from the rim - it prevents a seal). Break the vacuum by any means necessary - with any luck you'll even make a cool sound. Without perfect timing, flushing the commode will only make things worse because it creates a vacuum as it does its business.

If you should ever find yourself fighting a fire in a commode as I have, said fire is probably because of petroleum distillates floating on top of the water. Pouring water onto the flames will not help. It might cause the throne to flush spontaneously, which under some circumstances might expose the flames to combustible sewer gases. Trust me, you don't want this.

Do not attempt to blow out the flames either. This can result in an intensification of the fire. And there will be severe thermal stresses between the water-cooled part below and the heated part above that can crack the glazing or worse.

The right thing to do is to take a big towel, soak it down with water (although a dry one might work), and smother the commode with it. A few moments later the fire will be out.

The picture to the left may amuse you or even bring back memories. But this really is a household hazard - if you think escaping a toilet is awkward when you're caught butt-first, imagine being a toddler going in headfirst. Small children actually die like this every year, and not just in commodes - a bucket will work.

Yes, I need an editor.

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